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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Nov 2010

Vol. 720 No. 3

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 5 to 44, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 45 to 51, inclusive, answered orally.

Social Welfare Code

Liz McManus

Question:

52 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to reform rent supplement so that payment is made directly to the landlord instead of the tenant. [40034/10]

The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The scheme is intended as a temporary income support payment and is not designed to be a medium to long term housing support or a permanent solution to a person's housing needs. Rent supplement has responded to the dramatic increased demand for income support to support accommodation costs. There are currently 96,500 people in receipt of rent supplement, an increase of 62% since the end of December 2007.

Current legislation already provides for the making of a rent supplement payment to another person (e.g. a relative, a landlord or landlord's agent) on behalf of the recipient, at the tenant's request and is subject to the consent of the Health Service Executive (HSE). Approximately 20% of rent supplement payments are currently paid to a person other than the tenant. Under the legislative provisions governing rent supplement, the Department's relationship is with the tenant; the tenant makes the application for rent supplement and payment is made to the tenant. Rent supplement is specifically for the benefit of tenants to assist them with their accommodation needs. To remove the right of the tenant to receive this payment by making it payable only to the landlord would require legislative amendment and I have no plans at present to make this change.

Under the current arrangements, even with direct payment, landlords still have to collect the tenant contribution towards their rent (a minimum of €104 per month). The amount of rent supplement payable depends on the tenant's income; in some cases tenants pay only the minimum contribution while for others the tenant makes an additional contribution to their rent based on their financial circumstances. For example, where a person is in part-time income and receives just 10% of his or her rent directly from the State, the landlord would receive the 10% directly whilst still having to collect the 90% from the tenant.

The efficiency of the scheme would be significantly affected if this arrangement were to be changed, for example, Community Welfare Officer's (CWO's) would potentially have to create a formal relationship with some 96,500 additional clients, the landlords. This would involve greater complexity and significant resources to deal with a new set of third parties. In particular, it would also result in CWOs being drawn into disputes between landlords and tenants. There may also be financial and control implications in cases where a tenant moves address and neither the landlord nor tenant inform the Department. Similarly, where a tenant is no longer eligible for rent supplement and the Department ceases paying the landlord, the Department may find itself involved in eviction proceedings.

Where a landlord has a grievance in relation to the non-payment of rent by a tenant, s/he may apply to the Private Residential Tenancies Board to have the dispute resolved through the board's dispute resolution process. It is also open to the landlord to bring to the attention of the HSE any instance where a tenant is receiving rent supplement but is not paying their rent. Where a CWO becomes aware that a person receiving rent supplement is not using that supplement for the purpose for which it was intended the matter is investigated.

Since 2004 local authorities have specific responsibility for meeting the longer-term housing needs of people receiving rent supplement for 18 months or more. Local authorities are now meeting the housing needs of these individuals through a range of approaches, including the traditional range of social housing options, the voluntary housing sector and, in particular the rental accommodation scheme (RAS). In such cases the local authority has a direct contractual relationship with the landlord in RAS tenancies and as part of that contract the local authority pays rent directly to the landlord.

The current arrangements provide tenants with flexibility in terms of location, the freedom to move to a different location whilst allowing recipients time to seek alternative long-term housing solution provided by their local authority. The tailoring of additional payments, such as rent supplement, to meet the specific needs of individuals and making the payment direct to the tenant is regarded as an effective way of helping individuals realise their potential and take individual responsibility.

Social Welfare Benefits

Noel Coonan

Question:

53 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons claiming rent supplement for more than 18 months in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40005/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

84 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to ensure a greater transfer of rent supplement claimants to the rental accommodation scheme. [40046/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 84 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently over 96,500 tenants benefiting from a rent supplement payment — an increase of 61 per cent since the end of 2007. Over 44,500 have been in payment for 18 months or more. A tabular statement is attached showing the number of persons claiming rent supplement for more than 18 months in each of the past three years.

The rental accommodation scheme (RAS), which was introduced in 2004, gives local authorities specific responsibility for meeting the longer term housing needs of people receiving rent supplement for 18 months or more. Details of these cases are notified regularly by the Department to the local authorities. Local authorities meet the housing needs of these individuals through a range of approaches including: the traditional social housing, the voluntary housing sector and, in particular, the RAS. Latest figures from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government show that a total of 28,939 transfers from rent supplement to local authorities have occurred since 2005: 15,986 rent supplement recipients to RAS accommodation and a further 12,953 to social housing.

It is accepted that progress in relation to RAS was initially slower than expected. However the pace of delivery has improved significantly. In total, 14,000 recipients were transferred to RAS and social housing in 2008 and 2009; achieving targets set for RAS transfers for these years. The target established for 2010 is for a further 8,000 rent supplement tenants to be provided with a housing solution by local authorities. In consultation with the Department, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has approved a number of pilot programmes in different local authorities to increase the flow of transfers. These include allowing applicants for RAS to seek out their own properties which, subject to compliance with the normal conditions and the agreement of the landlord, may then be taken into the leasing programme. Approved housing bodies under the leasing initiative have also been advised that they can source applicants for social housing support from long-term rent supplement tenancies also.

The Department continues to work closely with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and is represented on a number of RAS implementation groups. The purpose of these Groups is to ensure that the RAS meets its objective of catering for those on long term rent supplementation while enabling rent supplement to return to its original role of a short-term income support.

Number Claiming Rent Supplement for more than 18 Months, 2007 to 2010.

Total Recipients

Recipients 18 months+

2007

59,726

32,123

2008

74,038

31,667

2009

93,030

35,133

2010*

96,100

44,573

*At end September 2010.

Employment Support Services

Seán Barrett

Question:

54 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details on his Department’s efforts to help persons return to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39993/10]

The Department of Social Protection operates a range of employment support measures designed to encourage and support social welfare recipients of working age to reduce their dependency on welfare payments. These include the employment support schemes, the activation programme and the Department's role in the National Employment Action Plan. The Department also supports new activation measures undertaken by other agencies, for example, the Work Placement Programme administered by FÁS and the Labour Market Activation Fund 2010 administered by the Department of Education and Skills.

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) is operated by my Department and is designed to provide a monetary incentive for people who are long term dependant on social welfare payments to make a return to work financially attractive and viable. The main purpose of the BTWEA is to encourage the long term unemployed to develop a business while allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment. The Short Term Enterprise Allowance is payable to a person who qualifies for Jobseekers' Benefit and who wishes to commence in self employment. This allowance is payable for the duration of their Jobseeker's Benefit entitlement.

The Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme was launched on 20th June 2010. Under the scheme, if any employer takes on additional member of staff in 2010 who has been unemployed for 6 months or more, s/he will be exempted from paying employers' PRSI for 12 months. The job must be new and additional, be for at least 30 hours a week and last for at least 6 months. The purpose of the scheme is to support job creation and counter the drift of people into long-term unemployment and welfare dependency.

There is also a network of Facilitators (currently 66 serving) at a local level in my Department. Facilitators work with social welfare recipients to identify appropriate training or development programmes which will enhance the skills that the individual has and ultimately improve their employment chances, as well as help them to continue to develop personally. They work in close co-operation with other agencies and service providers including FÁS, VEC, other education and training providers and the local and community and voluntary sector. In addition they provide advice and support to customers who wish to access the back to education scheme, the back to work scheme, and the short term enterprise allowance scheme of the Department.

While the primary responsibility for job creation rests with the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation, this Department already has a role in supporting people from welfare to work. The National Employment Action Plan is the main activation measure for jobseekers and provides for a systematic engagement of the employment services with unemployed people. It has been in operation since 1998 and has proven successful in that period in assisting people on the live register back into employment. Under the Plan, all persons between the ages of 18 and 65 years who are approaching 3 months on the Live Register, are identified by the Department of Social Protection and referred to FÁS for interview with the aim of assisting them to enter/re-enter the labour market.

In the period January to end of August, 2010 (the latest period for which data is available to this Department) a total of 60,797 persons were referred to FÁS — this is an increase of 9% (4,914) over the same period in 2009. 46,146 (76%) were interviewed by FÁS and 9,489 (16%) were placed in jobs, training or education. The Employment Action plan process is a key element in addressing the progression needs of those on the Live Register. It provides a stimulus to job search and affords an opportunity to explore, under professional guidance, the full range of employment and training services offered by FÁS.

Currently under the National Employment Action Plan customers are referred on an individual basis by this Department to FÁS. Under a new initiative, aimed at increasing the capacity and the efficiency of the process, jobseekers are being referred to group engagement sessions. These group engagements are hosted jointly by FÁS and my Department. At the engagement presentations are given by FÁS and my Department's Facilitators providing relevant information and advice and arranging follow-on individual appointments where appropriate.

Recent statistics (CSO QNHS Q2 2010) show that long term unemployment has increased from 1.5% in Q2 2008 to 5.9% in Q2 2010. Preventing long-term unemployment is important from both economic and social perspectives, especially because long-term unemployment tends to lead to erosion of skills and self-confidence, and damages future employment prospects. Effective prevention depends on being able to identify those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed at an early stage, and referring them to appropriate labour market programmes to improve their chances of obtaining employment. This was the motivation for a recently published ESRI report (National Profiling of the Unemployed in Ireland ESRI Research Series No. 10) which developed a statistical profiling model for Ireland that would identify those individuals with a high risk of becoming long-term unemployed. This model is now being developed for use in the Department.

Under changes in ministerial responsibility announced earlier this year, the rural social scheme and community services programmes have transferred to this Department from the former Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Work is also underway to finalise the transfer of both the Employment and Community Services divisions of FÁS to my Department. Overall, the transfer of functions being implemented will facilitate the delivery of a more effective and streamlined response to the needs of the unemployed. Bringing together, under the aegis of one department, the employment services of FÁS, the expertise of its Placement Officers and the unemployment services of this Department as well as the Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative Scheme, Community Services Programme and the Rural Social Scheme will offer significant opportunities to generate synergies, improve efficiency and, ultimately, improve service delivery to those availing of those services.

Social Welfare Code

Dinny McGinley

Question:

55 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the introduction of the carbon tax on 1 May 2010, the reason the promised vouched fuel allowance scheme has not been developed to offset the increases for low income families at risk of fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40010/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

71 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason he has not yet adopted measures to compensate the poor for the increase in fuel costs arising from the introduction of the carbon levy in May 2010. [40032/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

90 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to address the increased fuel poverty resulting from recently imposed price increases and the carbon levy; if the fuel allowance rate of payment will be increased or extended using the carbon tax income fund and if he has had discussions with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding making the fuel allowance payment more effective through retrofitting of these homes. [40070/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 55, 71 and 90 together.

The Department of Social Protection already assists low income households with heating costs through their basic payments, through the fuel allowance scheme and through the household benefits package of electricity and gas allowances. These schemes have been improved significantly in recent years. The fuel allowance is paid for 32 weeks each year from end September to early May. In the 2010/2011 heating season it is estimated that over 350,000 recipients will benefit from the allowance at a cost of over €239 million.

There are also 380,000 pensioner and other households in receipt of the household benefits package which provides up to 2,400 electricity units per annum (or the gas equivalent) over the year. It is estimated that 140,000 of these households are receiving both the fuel allowance and the electricity/gas allowance under the household benefits package to assist with heating and other energy requirements. The electricity and gas allowances under the household benefit package cost €184 million in 2009. I have recently announced that the electricity allowance has been increased with effect from 1 October 2010 to cover the cost of the Public Service Obligation levy on domestic electricity, which will increase the annual cost of the scheme by €12.6 million.

The Government is committed to protecting vulnerable households from the impact of energy costs through a combination of supports, investment in programmes to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock and energy efficiency awareness initiatives such as the Keep Well and Warm booklet and accompanying associated website. Some 150,000 copies of the booklet have been distributed to date in the last couple of years. The Warmer Homes Scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is the primary mechanism for alleviating the key underlying cause of energy poverty — that of thermal inefficiency of houses. Over 19,000 low-income houses were retrofitted in 2009 with a target of a further 22,500 in 2010.

In his Carbon Budget Statement, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, outlined details of €130 million in funding for insulation, €76 million of which will be used to assist low income families.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has overarching responsibility for the energy portfolio and has convened an Inter- Departmental/Agency Group on Affordable Energy to coordinate and drive Government policy in this area. They were tasked with devising an Energy Affordability Strategy. This strategy will set out existing and future approaches to addressing energy affordability and will have regard both to the impact of the carbon tax on low income households and the range of supports outlined above in making its recommendations.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

56 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on Sinn Féin’s proposal that rather than cutting, taxing or means testing child benefit it should remain universal and at its current rate and the wealthy should be taxed more; his plans regarding child benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40076/10]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

61 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection the way he intends to reform family income supplement to ensure that more low income families qualify. [40040/10]

John Perry

Question:

67 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to reform child income support payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40026/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

83 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is committed to maintaining the current value of child benefit in 2011. [40067/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56, 61, 67 and 83 together.

Between 1997 and 2009, overall expenditure on Child Income Supports (Child Benefit, Family Income Supplement, Qualified Child Increases, Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance) grew from just below €900 million to approximately €3.5 billion per year. Clearly social welfare spending and specifically Child Benefit, is a very significant part of overall Government spending. The Government is proud to have been able to direct such substantial increases in financial support to all families in recent years. However, given the scale of the current economic crisis, it is necessary to address all aspects of the public finances so as to ensure that they are sustainable and to ensure that resources are allocated fairly.

With regard to Child Benefit, the Government is conscious that this universal payment can be an important source of income for all families and so in Budget 2010 decided against withdrawing Child Benefit completely from any family. In the context of Budget 2010, the Minister for Finance noted the legal and logistical reasons why means testing or taxing Child Benefit could not be done at that stage. For these reasons in 2010, the Government decided to reduce the Child Benefit payment rates while protecting those children in families who were dependent on social welfare or in low income employment by increasing Qualified Child Increases and FIS income limits.

Social welfare expenditure for 2011, including expenditure on Child Income Support payments, is currently being considered in the context of the preparation of the departmental estimates for that year. Any plans to change the Child Benefit and Family Income Supplement payments are a matter to be decided in a budgetary context and announced on Budget day.

The Department is currently carrying out a value-for-money review in the area of Child Income Support payments. The review is nearing completion and in line with the overall approach of the expenditure review process, conclusions reached in the review, while not necessarily representing Government policy in this area, can be expected to play a role in informing future policy development particularly directed at securing more coherent, effective and efficient spending of public money on families with children. The question of higher levels of taxation for those with higher wealth or incomes is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance.

Willie Penrose

Question:

57 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the way his work for the dole scheme will operate and if the scheme will be compulsory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40050/10]

Activation and support for those who are unemployed is a key priority for Government. Earlier this year, the Taoiseach announced a number of changes to improve the delivery of employment, training and community services to the public by bringing together related responsibilities in these areas. These changes included the restructuring of Departmental responsibilities with the objective of providing a stream-lined response to the income support and job search needs of people who are unemployed.

In this context, my Department is devising proposals for the development of new initiatives based on the Rural Social Scheme and the Community Services Programme which will offer social employment opportunities. This new initiative will be an important element in the development and delivery of employment and community services and will aim to provide quality work opportunities to the unemployed and beneficial outcomes to the community. A key feature of the new scheme will be to provide a new activation route that will support unemployed people in remaining job-ready for re-entry to employment as the economic environment improves.

Considerable work is required on these proposals before they come on stream and take their place within the suite of activation measures aimed at supporting unemployed people. I have not set targets as to how many employment opportunities might be created as much depends on the level of resources that will be available to the Department and the capacity of not-for-profit community based organisations to avail of these emerging opportunities. Details of the roll out of this initiative will be made available as soon as possible.

Marriages of Convenience

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

58 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the action, if any, he is taking to address the problem of sham marriages. [40066/10]

Marriages of convenience, or "sham marriages" are marriages which are entered into for the purpose of one of the parties gaining an automatic right of residency based on marriage to a person who already has a right of residency. These marriages exploit Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council which deals with the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. This directive came into force on April 20th 2006. The matter was further compounded by the ruling of the European Court of Justice in the Metock case on 25th July 2008, which held that these rights applied to non-EU national spouses of EU nationals.

As has been widely reported in the media, the Garda National Immigration Bureau has lodged objections to a large number of marriages involving non-EU/EEA nationals, under Section 58 of the Civil Registration Act, 2004. Under the Act, if the objection relates to the possible existence of an impediment to the intended marriage, it is referred to the Registrar General to be investigated. The objection can only be upheld if it is based on the provision of the Civil Registration Act and these do not include questioning the reason for marriage. Since the enactment of the marriage provisions of the Civil Registration Act, 2004 on the 5th November 2007 a total of 73 objections have been lodged by the Garda National Immigration Bureau, for investigation under Section 58(4) of the Act. To date, one of the objections has been withdrawn, and the couple in question has been advised that the marriage could proceed. The remaining objections are still under investigation by the Registrar General.

While objections to marriages are upheld if there is an impediment, it is important to point out that issues which go to the identity of a party to a marriage or to consent to marry can also, potentially, render a marriage invalid. In such cases, it would be unsafe to allow the marriage to proceed. Newly updated Guidelines for Registrars for Marriage Notifications containing requirements concerning notification procedures, including the verification of identity and marital status, have been recently issued by the Registrar General to all registrars. I am also aware that this matter has been considered by the Department of Justice and Law Reform in the context of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, 2010.

I can assure the Deputy that the matter is being researched urgently with a view to identifying what further measures may be taken, including the possibility of legislating for any such measures. I am aware that procedures to prevent marriages of convenience are in place in other EU member States, and I would hope that equivalent measures might be introduced here. The GRO has sought legal advice as to its options and will proceed on the basis of this advice as quickly as possible once it is received.

Public Services Card

Denis Naughten

Question:

59 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection when the roll-out of identity cards will commence for social welfare recipients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39967/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

76 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated overall cost of the introduction of a system of public service cards with a breakdown of such estimated costs and when it is expected that such cards will be available for issue. [39971/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

95 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection the time table for the complete roll-out of identity cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39968/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

96 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details of the public service card with photographic identity to be rolled out from 2010; the estimated cost of same; the category of claimant to whom it will apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40022/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59, 76, 95 and 96 together.

The Department has developed, in conjunction with a number of other Government Departments, the specifications for a Public Services Card (PSC) under the Standard Authentication Framework Environment, or SAFE, programme. The specification provides for identification features, including a photograph. The aim is to develop a card that acts as a key for access to public services in general, identifying and authenticating individuals as appropriate and where required.

Legislative provisions in relation to the introduction of the Public Services Card have been included in Section 263 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended by Section 32 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007). These specify that the Minister may issue a Public Services Card in the format that he or she deems fit with the person's name, personal public service number, photograph, signature, card issue number and card expiry date to be inscribed on the card. Provision is also included for the person's name, personal public service number, date of birth, sex, all former surnames (if any) of the person's mother, photograph, signature and card expiry date to be electronically encoded on the card. In addition, provision is made for any other information that may be prescribed to be either inscribed or electronically encoded on the card. It is my intention to provide for the addition of place of birth and nationality to the data set to be encoded on the chip in the Act before the end of this year.

Over the past few years significant progress had been made on the implementation of the project including the selection of a preferred bidder to provide a managed service for card production and related bureau services. Technical specifications were finalised and the necessary organisational change was designed. However, in view of the uncertain economic climate, the project was suspended until formal sanction to proceed was received from the Department of Finance at the end of last year. A contract was agreed with the managed service provider from early January.

The remaining elements of the project commenced at that time and are expected to take several more months to complete. Significant preparatory work has been undertaken including decisions regarding the final design of the card and the commencement of the development of a secure site for the personalisation of the cards. It is also necessary to develop a technical infrastructure within the Department to support the management and administration of the cards. Some of this development is being undertaken internally while procurement for the remainder is underway. Exact costs for this aspect are not yet known.

At the moment it is estimated that, following implementation of the necessary registration infrastructure, the production capability will be ready in December and card issue for customers of the Department will commence early in 2011. The overall timeframe for completion of initial deployment of a Public Services Card is dependent on the rate at which it will be possible to securely register all of those to whom it will be issued. Initial registration will be carried out in the Department and it is also exploring what other options exist for external registration. Initial registration will be for those customers seeking PPS Numbers and this will be followed by registration for selected groups of claimants, including phased issue to Free Travel customers.

The Public Services Card will replace cards currently in use, such as the Social Services Card and the Free Travel card, with highly secure cards. Other Departments and agencies will also be in a position to use the card and the infrastructure that will support it. Features such as photographs and signatures and electronic card authentication are expected to minimise the rate of fraud and error arising from incorrectly identified and authenticated individuals.

The managed service provider's costs are for some €24m for a population of 3m with issuance taking about three to five years (i.e. about €8 per card including postage at the volumes stated). The Department's current estimates provide for the cost of technical systems development and initial issue of a quantity of cards. It is intended to mitigate the costs of the PSC through reliance on existing resources and utilisation of relevant data already held by the State, for instance photographs and signatures held by the Department in relation to the All-Ireland Free Travel Scheme, possible use of Passport Office data.

A further benefit of the Public Services Card will be the efficiencies that can be achieved by all agencies and customers using the card. The time spent on establishing identity and authentication will be reduced on both sides, leading to significant potential savings nationally.

Social Welfare Code

Jack Wall

Question:

60 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to update guidelines regarding the habitual residency rule to ensure a consistent approach by all deciding officers and his further plans to amend the habitual residency rule to provide greater weight to the length of previous residency by the applicant. [40045/10]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

69 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason increasing numbers of returning emigrants who declare their intention to stay, have family ties and produce evidence of disconnection with their previous place of residence are being refused social welfare benefits on the basis of the habitual residence rule; the guidelines on which deciding officers are operating; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40011/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 69 together.

The determination of a person's habitual residence is made in accordance with Section 246 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended. Subsection (4) specifically directs the deciding officer to "take into consideration all the circumstances of the case, including, in particular, the following:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person's employment;

(d) the person's main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances."

These five specified factors have been derived from European Court of Justice case law which examined the concept of habitual residence in the context of social welfare benefits. The Department's guidelines go on to point out that "No single factor is conclusive. The evidential weight to be attributed to each factor will depend on the circumstances of each case. It is necessary to weigh up all the information and balance the evidence for and against an applicant satisfying the habitual residence condition".

The current guidelines regarding determination of habitual residence address the issue of returning emigrants very specifically under the heading: Resuming previous residence.

"A person who had previously been habitually resident in the State or within the Common Travel Area and who moved to live and work in another country and then resumes his/her permanent residence in the State may be regarded as being habitually resident immediately on his/her return to the State. In determining habitual residence in such cases the deciding officer should take account of

purpose of return e.g. expiry of foreign residence permit

the applicant's stated intentions

verified arrangements which have been made in regard to returning on a long-term basis e.g. transfer of financial accounts and any other assets

length and continuity of the previous residence in the State

the record of employment or self employment in another State and

whether s/he has maintained links with the previous residence and can be regarded as resuming his/her previous residence rather than starting a new period of residence."

These guidelines are currently being revised with a view to making them more user-friendly for deciding officers and customers alike. All issues that have been raised recently by Deputies and interested groups are being fully considered in this process.

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 56.

Liz McManus

Question:

62 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Social Protection his policy regarding the ending of the ban on cohabitation for persons in receipt of one parent family payment and the replacement of this payment with a parental allowance. [40047/10]

The One-Parent Family Payment, by its nature, is not payable where the lone parent is cohabiting with the other parent of the child or with someone else as husband and wife. The Government discussion paper, "Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents", which was published in 2006, proposed that the category of lone parenthood would be abolished. Instead, a parental allowance would be made to all parents (living alone or with a partner) with young children on a low income, thus ending the cohabitation rule. It will not be possible for my Department to progress this aspect of the proposal due, in part, to the current economic climate. These proposals have, however, informed deliberations regarding the One-Parent Family Payment scheme.

The current duration of the One-Parent Family Payment, which is payable until the youngest child in a lone parent family reaches the age of 18 years — or 22 years if in full-time education — is not in the best interests of the recipient, their children or society. Social welfare supports for lone parents should be designed to:

prevent long-term dependence on social welfare supports and facilitate financial independence;

recognise parental choice with regard to the care of young children but with the expectation that parents will not remain outside of the labour force indefinitely, and

include an expectation of participation in education, training and employment, with supports provided in this regard.

To meet these social policy objectives, my Department has introduced changes to the One-Parent Family Payment in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2010. For new customers, from April 2011, the One-Parent Family Payment will be paid until the youngest child in the family reaches the age of 14 years. For existing recipients of the payment, there will be a six-year phasing-out period to enable them to access education and training and to prepare them for their return to the labour market. Special provisions will be made for families with children for whom the Domiciliary Care Allowance is paid and for the recently bereaved (both married and cohabiting). These changes will bring Ireland's support for lone parents more in line with international provisions, where there is a general movement away from long-term and passive income support.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Terence Flanagan

Question:

63 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the average waiting time to access the money advice and budgeting service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40016/10]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. The role of money advisers is to help clients to assess their financial situation, make a budget plan and deal with creditors. It is important that people coping with debt difficulties take early action and approach MABS for help and guidance. This can be the first positive step for people in addressing debt difficulties.

There are 52 independent MABS companies operating the local MABS services from 65 locations throughout the country, with national support provided by the MABS NDL. In addition, the MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and the MABS website can be accessed 24 hours a day at www.mabs.ie. 90% of clients presenting to MABS are assisted through the telephone helpline, which provides assisted self-help to ensure clients take steps to assess and address their situation.

The Citizens Information Board (CIB), who has responsibility for MABS, compiles information on the waiting times in each MABS office on a quarterly basis and posts it to the www.mabs.ie website. Based on the latest information available, at the end of September 2010 the average waiting time from first point of contact to first appointment with a money adviser is some 4.9 weeks. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices. During the waiting period, clients are assessed and those in need of immediate assistance are given a priority appointment, others are provided with assisted self-help to ensure that they have taken steps to assess their situation and if appropriate they are supported to take holding action with their creditors. I am satisfied that MABS provides a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Social Welfare Code

Joe Carey

Question:

64 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details on the review of the mortgage interest supplement scheme; the changes envisaged under this review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40024/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

74 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans, if any, to abolish the 30-hour rule in respect of mortgage interest supplement. [40038/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 74 together.

There are approximately 18,000 persons currently in receipt of mortgage interest supplement (MIS). This represents a 120% increase since the end of 2008 when there were 8,100 recipients. The Department's review of the administrative, policy and legal aspects of the mortgage interest supplement scheme was published in July 2010 in conjunction with the interim report of the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Review Group, chaired by Mr Hugh Cooney. The main purpose of the Department's review was to examine how the scheme could continue to meet its primary objective of catering for those who require short-term assistance. The review group included representatives from my Department, the Community Welfare Service, the Departments of Finance and Environment, Heritage and Local Government, together with a representative from the Office of the Financial Regulator. The Department's review is available on the Department's website.

The Department's review of the mortgage interest supplement scheme set out a number of recommendations. These recommendations are centered on the delivery of significant customer service improvement by ensuring that State support for those unable to deal with mortgage arrears is better targeted, consistent and easily understood. Allied with the focus on customer service improvement are recommendations that seek to ensure that lending institutions, borrowers and the Exchequer share responsibilities and commitments in a balanced way.

The key proposals of the Department's mortgage interest supplement review are as follows:

1. Mortgage interest supplement will become a time bound payment.

2. To remove the ‘30 hour rule' — this will allow couples / single people who, due to the economic downturn, have suffered a significant loss of income and now find themselves in a distressed mortgage and require MIS support. Under current rules, due to these people working a full working week they would not be entitled to MIS.

3. The rule excluding mortgage interest supplement where a property is offered for sale is unduly restrictive in the current market and should be suspended and re-introduced when the housing market recovers.

4. Mortgage interest supplement should not be provided where repayments of the capital element of the loan are being made to the lender. This will insure the borrower is not placed under additional financial stress.

5. The applicant should be afforded a six month period of forbearance with the lender before the State intervenes in providing mortgage interest supplement.

6. Mortgage interest supplement should not be payable in respect of any housing loans of other State agencies or housing authorities.

7. Successful applicants must be assisted to ensure that their long term housing support needs, if any, are met prior to the cessation of mortgage interest supplement payment.

My Department is currently developing an implementation plan that will set out a framework for the future of the mortgage interest supplement scheme. This plan will be completed when the recommendations of final report of the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Review Group are available. This report is expected to be completed shortly.

Social Welfare Benefits

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

65 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on the recent research by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice which showed that the income supports available to lone pensioners, families with teenagers and single men all living in rural areas are inadequate to meet their minimum essential budget. [40069/10]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the research report of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, titled "Minimum Essential Budgets for Six Household Types in Rural Areas” which was published in October 2010. The report has been furnished to my Department and is being studied by my officials. Social welfare expenditure for 2011 will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget, having regard both to needs and to the resources available to meet those needs. In an uncertain economic environment, my priority will be to ensure that the Government strategy to stabilise the financial position is advanced and to protect those most in need in a manner which is sustainable in the years ahead.

Employment Support Services

Mary Upton

Question:

66 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to increase the number of interviews and consultations for persons during the course of their unemployment. [40031/10]

The number of interviews or consultations that a jobseeker will attend over the course of his or her claim will vary from person to person. Customers claiming jobseeker's allowance may have to be interviewed by an inspector at the beginning of their claim and at any subsequent review of their means. Once a customer is three months on the Live Register, he or she will be selected for interview by FÁS under the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP) and may also be interviewed or elect to consult with the job facilitator at any stage during their claim. The Department refers a number of people that have been through the NEAP process to facilitators on a monthly basis.

For entitlement to jobseeker schemes the customer must be available for and genuinely seeking work. As part of the normal control process, a future review date is entered on the payment system for all jobseeker customers. Additional review dates are entered, as necessary, throughout the life of the claim. At each date the claim is reviewed and, where necessary, the customer is interviewed to ensure that he or she continues to satisfy the conditions of the scheme. The current system of interviews and consultations provides the Department with opportunities to assess a customer's commitment to seek work and his/her availability for work. In addition, it provides customers with opportunities to discuss the employment and education opportunities available to them at various points in their claim. The current arrangements are kept under review.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 56.

Social Welfare Benefits

David Stanton

Question:

68 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of serving members of the Permanent Defence Forces who are receiving family income supplement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39976/10]

David Stanton

Question:

100 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the total number of persons in receipt of family income supplement; the number of these who are public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39975/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 100 together.

There are currently some 27,228 people in receipt of a weekly Family Income Supplement (FIS) payment of which 3,074 are public servants. The number of serving members of the Permanent Defence Forces who are receiving family income supplement is included in the figure for Public Servants. A separate breakdown is not currently available.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 60.

Employment Support Services

Damien English

Question:

70 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide details on the proposed integration of the public employment functions of FÁS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39985/10]

Martin Ferris

Question:

82 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the plans to transfer a number of FÁS responsibilities into his Department; if his Department’s responsibilities are likely to include responsibility for setting the materials budgets of community employment projects and if transferred if he intends to reverse recent developments whereby senior FÁS personnel are severely restricting those budgets (details supplied). [40073/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 70 and 82 together.

The Taoiseach announced on 23rd March 2010 that the Department of Social and Family Affairs would be reconfigured as the Department of Social Protection with the transfer to it of a number of functions including the employment and community services programmes of FÁS and the transfer from it of functions relating to social inclusion and family supports. The training services of FÁS will remain under the remit of my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills. The purpose of this reorganisation is to provide a more effective and streamlined service to the unemployed by integrating the income support provided through the social welfare system with supports for activation and re-entry to employment.

The Social Welfare Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2010 provided the legislative basis for transferring policy and financial responsibility for the employment and community services programmes of FÁS from the Minister for Education and Skills. It is intended to commence this part of the Act shortly. From date of commencement, FÁS will continue to provide these services but under the direction of my Department. Further legislation is under preparation to provide for the transfer the relevant staff and related resources from FÁS to my Department during the course of 2011.

A major programme of change is currently being developed by my Department, in close consultation with senior management in FÁS and the Department of Education and Skills, with the objective of developing a new service vision and model for the integrated Department. The aim is to create a Department which is structured around the customer rather than the schemes it delivers so that people can obtain the services they require, and are entitled to, in a seamless, effective and efficient way.

In this regard, a number of significant steps have already been taken to develop a more streamlined and integrated service between FÁS and my Department. For example, as a result of a review of the National Employment Action Plan, a number of enhancements are being made to improve the delivery of services to people who are unemployed. These include the introduction of group engagements with people referred to the employment services and the development of a new case management approach to managing interactions with people signing on for jobseekers payments.

Where the funding of Community Employment projects is concerned, the current resources allocated to this programme will be transferring to my Department. Any decisions as to the future funding of these projects will be taken in the context of the Government's deliberations on the four year budgetary framework.

Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 55.

Social Welfare Code

John Deasy

Question:

72 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to centralise the means testing of social welfare benefits; if he has had discussions with the Health Service Executive to ensure non-duplication of this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39969/10]

My Department operates a range of means tested schemes and these schemes, including the means testing elements, are administered through a network of local offices, central offices and, in the case of supplementary welfare allowance, through the offices of community welfare officers. My Department is not currently considering the centralising of means testing of social welfare payments. However, two important projects are underway which will enhance the delivery of means tested payments. Firstly, a project to facilitate the capture and storage of means information and the calculation of customer means across social assistance schemes is being undertaken at present. These schemes include Jobseeker's Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance (currently administered by the Health Service Executive).

One of the benefits of this project is that the Department will be, where appropriate, able to re-use means information already held which in turn will provide better customer service by reducing the need for different parts of the Department to request information from the applicant. Other benefits of this project include:

achieving qualitative and quantitative improvements in productivity

achieving value for money in the use of resources;

implementing secure control processes;

providing better management information;

allowing for the future introduction of mobile working to facilitate the electronic capture of data at time of investigation; and

placing the Department in a position to anticipate and respond to changing business demands e.g. additional means factors, changes to scheme rules etc.

This project is expected to be completed in by April 2011.

Secondly, the integration of the Community Welfare Service (CWS) into the Department will result in a more coordinated approach to the provision of service to the public. This will create opportunities to remove duplication of work, including in the area of means assessment. The target date for the transfer is 1st January 2011 and discussions in that regard are continuing with the unions representing the CWS employees concerned and with the unions representing the Department's existing staff.

Social Welfare Fraud

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

73 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated extent of fraudulent claims of social welfare and in particular jobseeker’s payments by those who are living abroad and return occasionally to sign on or otherwise claim payments and the steps being taken to deal with this activity. [39974/10]

The Department processes in excess of two million claims each year and it makes payments to over one million people every week. It is important to emphasise that the vast majority of people are receiving the entitlement due to them. The Department has a broad-ranging and comprehensive control strategy, which aims to keep fraud and abuse to a minimum. The emphasis is to minimise risks of fraud and eliminate incorrect payments.

Controls are exercised at both the initial claim stage and at subsequent stages during the claim life cycle. Claims are reviewed on a regular and targeted basis. At the end September 2010 over 546,000 individual claims were reviewed across all schemes. The Department has introduced measures, which are evidence based, to target control activity at higher risk schemes and categories of claimants. These include addressing residency risks in appropriate schemes. An estimate of the extent of fraud described by the Deputy is not available. However at the end of 2009 approx 10% of cases which were specifically targeted for residency reviews resulted in savings in Jobseekers payments while in the Child benefit scheme approximately 3% of overall residency reviews resulted in savings.

Specific controls to target residency as a risk factor include the following:

1. Nationwide residency checks were introduced for non-Irish nationals on a jobseekers payment.

2. New claimants for jobseekers payments do not receive payment into their bank account.

3. Stricter identity checks have been introduced in Post Offices throughout the country for people collecting Social Welfare payments.

4. A comprehensive set of rigorous checks are being applied by Local Offices and Inspectors on claims from people who move from Northern Ireland.

5. Officials also liaise regularly with colleagues in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain to establish if claimants are in receipt of welfare payments outside of Ireland.

6. The Department participates in multi-agency vehicle checkpoints with other agencies.

7. The facility to report suspect activity on the Department of Social Protection website was introduced early this year.

8. The Department's Special Investigation Unit is managed centrally since February, 2010.

Other measures which address control risk factors include the appointment of additional Inspectors. In addition fraud detection systems have been improved through data matching with other organisations. The consequences for social welfare fraud can be severe. Criminal prosecutions may be taken against persons who defraud the social welfare system and employers who fail to carry out their statutory obligations. The Department is committed to ensuring that social welfare payments are available to those who are entitled to them. In this regard the control programme of my Department is carefully monitored and the various measures are continuously refined to ensure that they remain effective.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 64.

Pension Provisions

Billy Timmins

Question:

75 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of defined benefit pension schemes which fail the minimum funding standard; the number of persons affected by same. [39978/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

81 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection his response to the sovereign annuity proposal made to his Department by the Irish Association of Pension Funds and the Society of Actuaries. [40041/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 81 together.

Under the Pensions Act, defined benefit pension schemes must meet a minimum Funding Standard which requires that schemes maintain sufficient assets to enable them discharge their accrued liabilities in the event of the scheme winding up. Where schemes do not satisfy the Funding Standard, the sponsors/trustees must submit a funding proposal to the Pensions Board to restore full funding within three years, although as part of measures announced by the Government, the Pensions Board can now allow a scheme ten years or more to meet the standard in certain circumstances.

At the end of 2009, there were 254,325 members in 1,192 defined benefit schemes subject to the funding standard. It was estimated at that time that in excess of 75% of these schemes were in deficit. In a recent survey undertaken by the Pensions Board 70% of schemes reported to be in deficit. However, the extent of the level of under-funding will not be fully apparent until all schemes carry out their next actuarial assessment and report the results to the Pensions Board.

The Government is very conscious of the pressures on both sponsoring employers and pension scheme trustees, arising from the very significant losses incurred by pension funds during 2007 and 2008. While schemes recovered some of their losses since then, we are anxious to ensure, in so far as we can, that those involved have sufficient time and space to fully assess the implications for their schemes and the remedial action they can take.

Indeed, this was the thinking behind the implementation of a number of measures introduced to ease the pressures being felt by many pension funds. Those measures included the granting of extra time for schemes to formulate funding proposals and allowing longer periods for recovery plans. In addition, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 amended the Pensions Act to allow for the restructuring of underfunded schemes; to ensure a more equitable distribution of assets in the event of the wind-up of a defined benefit scheme and to strengthen the powers of the Pensions Board in ensuring that pension contributions deducted from wages and salaries are remitted by employers to scheme trustees. This Act also introduced the legislative provisions to enable the Minister for Finance to establish the Pensions Insolvency Payments Scheme (PIPS) to reduce the cost of purchasing pension payments for trustees of pension schemes where the employer has become insolvent. The PIPS came into effect in February 2010 and will ensure a more equitable distribution of assets following the wind up of underfunded pension schemes.

In March of this year the Government launched the National Pensions Framework. As the Deputy is aware, the framework sets out the Government's intention for a radical and wide-scale reform of the Irish pension system. I announced last month that work on the new defined benefit pension model, as outlined in this Framework, would be expedited. My Department will aim to introduce this new model, following legislative changes on 1 July 2011. Following this announcement, the deadline of the 30th November for the submission of funding proposal to the Pension Board was deferred. It is anticipated that the deferral of this deadline will allow scheme time to take account of reforms to the defined benefit model in the preparation of funding proposals for submission to the Pensions Board by a date which will be announced by the Pensions Board.

As you are aware, the Government has established an implementation group charged with bringing forward proposals for the introduction of measures contained in the National Pensions Framework. As part of its deliberations, the proposal for a sovereign annuity mentioned by Deputy Shortall is also being given serious consideration. It must be stressed that the issue is by no means straight-forward and the benefits and risks involved for all stakeholders are being fully assessed.

Question No. 76 answered with Question No. 59.

Social Welfare Code

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

77 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to abolish the30-hour rule in respect of rent supplement and his estimate of the cost of same. [40039/10]

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support, to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. Rent supplement is not payable where a person or their spouse or partner is in full-time employment, that is for 30 hours or more a week. However, provision was made in 2007 whereby a person on rent supplement, who is accepted as eligible for accommodation under the rental accommodation scheme, may return to full-time work, subject to a means test, without losing entitlement to their rent supplement payment.

The 30-hour per week limit has been in place since 1977 when the SWA scheme came into operation. The use of 30 hours as the part-time limit for SWA is designed to be as advantageous as possible to individuals returning to the employment market without including those in full-time employment, thus reflecting the scheme's original purpose of a short-term income support payment. Support for those in full-time employment and who require long term housing support are provided by local authority housing initiatives which include the rental accommodation scheme and other social housing placement schemes.

Employment Support Services

Deirdre Clune

Question:

78 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Social Protection if his Department has been contacted by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to resolve the outstanding issues that exist regarding work placement and internship schemes; the way they impact on jobseeker’s payments; the steps he will take to resolve these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39970/10]

The Government is currently examining ways of providing further support to graduate retention in the economy, with policy matters in this area being primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Education and Skills. The main existing employment support mechanism for graduates is the work placement programme administered by FÁS. A key element of the programme is that the customer retains their social welfare entitlement. This facility has also been extended to the IBEC gradlink programme. While on either programme a person must be genuinely seeking work and must take up an offer of paid employment if one arises. In this way participants may continue to satisfy the social welfare criteria of being available for and genuinely seeking work.

However, if a participant is paid a top-up by their employer this constitutes reckonable earnings from employment. On this basis they can no longer be considered unemployed. Additionally, in relation to those in receipt of a means tested social welfare payment, such income would fall to be assessed as means. The distinction between employed and unemployed is of crucial importance in the design and administration of any such scheme. Design of a scheme that permits retention of social welfare benefits while a person is in receipt of wages or non-pecuniary emoluments must take cognisance of substitution and replacement effects, while remaining attractive to both interns and hosts. On this basis careful control and demarcation is essential in schemes of this nature. Payments by employers also raise fundamental issues in relation to employment rights, taxation and social insurance. These matters are informing ongoing policy discussions in relation to internships.

Social Welfare Code

Mary Upton

Question:

79 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans, if any, to reform the withdrawal rate for rent and mortgage interest supplement. [40044/10]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme provides for a weekly or monthly supplement to be paid in respect of rent or mortgage interest to any person in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs. The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is administered by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department. The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support, to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. Similarly, mortgage interest supplement provides short-term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only.

Significant improvements to the means test for rent supplement and mortgage interest supplement were implemented in 2007. The assessment of means for these schemes now provides for a gradual withdrawal of payment as hours of employment or earnings increase. Those availing of part-time employment and/or training opportunities can continue to receive a rent or mortgage interest supplement subject to their satisfying the standard means assessment rules. Since June 2007, where a person has additional income in excess of the standard weekly rate of supplementary welfare allowance, the first €75 of such additional income together with 25% of any additional income above €75 is disregarded for means assessment purposes. This ensures that those returning to work or participating in training schemes are better off as a result of taking up such an opportunity.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he will take to alleviate the congestion in the processing of all forms of social welfare payments having regard to the hardship caused to the persons in need at a time of economic, social and personal stress; if he will arrange for the redeployment of the necessary staff from other Departments to deal with the backlog of applications and appeals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39973/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

91 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to reduce waiting times for processing claims across all schemes. [40042/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

357 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he is taking to deal with the backlog on social welfare claims. [40366/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 91 and 357 together.

The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. To this end, operational processes and procedures and the organisation of work are reviewed in all areas of the Department. These reviews are supported by modern technology, the potential of which is continuously harnessed. Claims are processed in the most efficient and expeditious way possible, having regard to the eligibility conditions that apply to each scheme.

Processing times vary across schemes because of both the volume of applications and the differing qualification criteria. For example, means assessments are required for all of the social assistance schemes; medical examinations are required for some of the illness related schemes and customers must also satisfy the habitual residence conditions. In the case of the insurance-based schemes, it may be necessary to ascertain details of foreign insurance records.

The main impact on service delivery has arisen due to the increase in the Live Register which increased from 240,217 at September 2008 to 419,854 at September 2009 and 442,417 at September 2010. In response, all aspects of the work associated with the processing of claims has been examined and streamlined wherever possible. In this context, the Department has introduced a range of process improvement initiatives regarding claims for Jobseeker's Allowance and Jobseeker's Benefit. One of the most significant initiatives, aimed at reducing queuing times and waiting times, involves the customer attending their Local Office by appointment at which time the claim is taken and decided.

In addition, a range of other process improvements have been introduced which include:

A more streamlined procedure for claimants moving to jobseeker's allowance when their jobseekers benefit expires;

A streamlined process for people who had a claim in the previous two years;

Application forms for the jobseeker schemes are now available on the Department's website. This means that anyone who wants to make a claim can print the form at home and bring it to the local office completed. This helps reduce queuing times;

More straightforward procedures for providing evidence of identity and address have been introduced;

The Department has also simplified processing methods for some customers who work casually, part-time or on systematic short-time work.

Since May 2008, 766 staff have been assigned to my Department, mainly through the transfer and redeployment of staff from other Government Departments. The staff assigned have filled additional posts and critical vacancies in Local Offices, Support Units, Scheme areas and the Department's Inspectorate. Some of these posts were sourced through a staff levy imposed on other Government Departments in April 2009.

A number of initiatives have also been put in place to enhance the capacity of the Social Welfare Appeals Office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

2 additional Appeals Officers were assigned to the Office in 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

Eight experienced retired Appeals Officers have been re-employed on a part-time basis since July 2010.

In conclusion, I wish to assure Deputies that service delivery remains a key priority in my Department and that processes are kept under continuous review to ensure that services are delivered promptly to customers. Staffing needs are also kept under constant review to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources.

Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 75.
Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 70.
Question No. 83 answered with Question No. 56.
Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 53.

Social Welfare Code

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

85 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Social Protection the outcome of his discussions with insurance companies in respect of the suggestion of changing social welfare legislation to provide for the reimbursement to the Department by insurance companies of social welfare payments deducted from awards of special damages in respect of loss of earnings. [40051/10]

Social welfare legislation does not currently provide for reimbursement to the Department by insurance companies in cases where adjustments may have been made to special damages awards on foot of social welfare payments received by plaintiffs. Preliminary work has been undertaken by my Department in relation to the issues involved. These issues are complex, not least insofar as there could be consequences for economic competitiveness and negative downstream costs for employers and employees in terms of increased insurance premia in respect of employer liability, public liability and transport cover.

Against that background, the introduction of any changes in this area would necessitate extensive consultations with a wide range of interested parties, including not only representatives of the insurance industry but also the legal profession and employers' representatives amongst others, in order to adequately assess all of the possible implications and to comply with formal Regulatory Impact Assessment requirements. In view of the wider potential implications, I intend to consult with my Government colleagues with a view to securing agreement on the most appropriate course of action in relation to this matter.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

86 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the back to school clothing and footwear allowance falls short of the cost associated with returning to school by between €260 and €510 depending on the age of the child and his plans to address this shortfall and make education affordable for families who are struggling. [40071/10]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible families to assist with the extra costs when children start school each autumn. The allowance is not intended to meet the full cost of school clothing and footwear but only to provide assistance towards these costs. A person may qualify for payment of an allowance if they are in receipt of a social welfare payment (including family income supplement), or Health Service Executive payment, are participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education and training course and have household income at or below certain set levels. The purpose of the household income limit is to ensure that the allowance is directed at those with the greatest need.

In Budget 2009, the income thresholds for entitlement to back to school clothing and footwear allowance were increased by €50. The rates of back to school clothing and footwear allowance have been increased significantly in recent years. Since 2005, the allowance has increased from €80 to €200 in respect of qualified children aged from 2 to 11 years and from €150 to €305 for those aged 12 to 22. These are increases of 150% and 103% respectively. As a special measure introduced in Budget 2009, an additional allowance of €215 is payable to 18 year olds only in respect of whom compensatory child benefit is in payment. Total payment in respect of children aged 18 is €520.

The number of children benefiting from the allowance increased from 161,000 in 2006 to over 277,000 in 2009. The number of families benefiting has increased from 79,000 in 2006 to almost 140,000 in 2009. Approximately 170,000 families were expected to benefit from the Scheme in 2010 year. At 15 October 2010 in excess 160,444 claims had been paid at a value in excess of €76.5m.

My Department established a Working Group to undertake a review of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme as part of its Expenditure Review Programme. The Working Group published its report in August 2004. In relation to the adequacy of the payment rates of the scheme, the review noted that while the value of the BSCFA had increased by 152% for children under 12 and by 194% for children over 12 since 1990, the Consumer Price Index figure for clothing and footwear dropped by over 24% in the same period. The review concluded that payment rates did not warrant adjustment. Nevertheless, the rates of payment for BSCFA were increased in recent years, including increases in the income limit which have enabled more people to qualify.

The most recent Consumer Price Index figures show that clothing and footwear costs have:

Fallen by 7.4% in the last 12 months;

Fallen by 27.6% since December 2006;

Fallen by 38.1% since December 2001.

The adequacy of back to school clothing and footwear allowance payments will be kept under review. Any further changes to the scheme would have to be considered in the context of future Budgets and in the light of the resources available to me for improvements in social welfare generally.

Pension Provisions

Catherine Byrne

Question:

87 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is committed to safeguarding the State pension in budget 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40028/10]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

93 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social Protection if he is committed to maintaining the value of the State pension at current levels in 2011. [40052/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 93 together.

Social welfare expenditure for 2011, including expenditure on State pensions, will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget, having regard both to needs and to the resources available to meet those needs. In an uncertain economic environment, my priority will be to ensure that the Government strategy to stabilise the financial position is advanced and to protect those most in need in a manner which is sustainable in the years ahead.

Departmental Information Services

Emmet Stagg

Question:

88 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps he is taking to improve information services available to employees and employers on the benefits for unemployed persons moving from welfare to work. [40068/10]

The primary objective of the Department's information policy is to ensure that all customers are made aware of the wide range of schemes and services available and that they are kept informed of changes and improvements as they occur. The Department operates a network of some 125local and branch offices throughout the country. Each local office has officers who are dedicated to providing information and are available to explain supports and services to people. Information officers provide a range of information to customers on their entitlements including, in broad terms, the effect that taking up work may have on their social welfare payments.

In addition, the Department's network of facilitators work closely with FÁS and other agencies at a local level to identify and target appropriate education, training and development opportunities for people. This locally-based service is supported by a central Information Unit which operates a LoCall information line (1890 66 22 44) which customers may call for information and guidance on their entitlements.

The Department produces a comprehensive range of information leaflets and booklets and these are available in a wide range of outlets, including Social Welfare Local Offices, Citizens Information Centres and Post Offices. Leaflets can also be requested through the Department's website www.welfare.ie. The website contains full information on the range of schemes and services, including supports that may be available to jobseekers on return to the workforce such as Family Income Supplement, Money Advice and Budgeting Service, etc. There is a ‘Frequently Asked Questions' section dedicated to Jobseekers which is available in English, Irish and Polish and provides answers to some of the most common queries the Department receives on topics such as taxation of benefits and on options available regarding training, employment, self-employment and voluntary work.

The Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme, which was launched on June 21st this year, is prominently advertised on our website's home page. The Department also operates a PRSI Mailing List via its website, and the almost four thousand subscribers, primarily employers and tax practitioners, receive mails on PRSI changes each year. Funding is also provided annually to the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed (INOU) to produce their booklet "Working for Work", which contains full information on jobseekers payments, the training and development options available to jobseekers as well as advice on job searching, tax and other social services provided by other Departments and agencies. INOU provide free copies of the "Working for Work" booklet to people in receipt of social welfare payments.

The Citizens Information Board, which comes under the aegis of the Department, is the national information agency with responsibility for supporting the provision of independent information and advice on the broad range of social services including social welfare services. Information is provided through Citizen Information Centres and other offices throughout the country, through the Citizens Information Phone Service (1890 777 121) which operates from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and on their website at www.citizensinformation.ie. The Citizens Information Board recently launched a new website dedicated to people recently made unemployed, called www.losingyourjob.ie. This site provides a single point of information for anyone looking for assistance with unemployment or reduced hours. The Department will continue to increase and improve the channels through which it delivers information services to all its customers.

Pension Provisions

Arthur Morgan

Question:

89 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social Protection if in recognition of the role played by the State pension in reducing poverty among older persons and in view of the fact that for the majority of older persons the State pension and associated benefits are their only source of income, he will make a commitment to maintain the current rates in the upcoming budget. [40077/10]

Between 1994 and 2008 social welfare pensions increased by 148% while the Consumer Price Index for this period increased by 51%. Increases in the State pension (contributory) have brought the personal rate of pension to a maximum weekly rate up to €230.30 per week. A pensioner couple would be eligible for a weekly income of €436.60. These pension increases demonstrate the significant improvements which were made in real terms in pension rates. In Budget 2010, the Government avoided any cuts in the State pension. Weekly rates of payments to pensioners (those 66 and over) were not reduced and neither were other supports such as the household benefits package which includes the free TV licence, electricity/gas allowance and telephone allowance. The living alone and over 80 allowances were also retained at existing levels.

I have been engaged in an intensive round of consultations with a wide range of welfare representative organisations and I am listening carefully to their views. In an uncertain international environment, my priority will be to ensure that the overall Government strategy is advanced and to protect those most in need in a manner which is sustainable in the years ahead. It is important to stress that, at this stage, no decisions have been taken either by me or by the Government with regard to the forthcoming Budget.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 55.
Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 80.

Social Welfare Benefits

Catherine Byrne

Question:

92 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of the national carers’ strategy; if he is committed to helping carers in the community; if he will protect the carer’s allowance from drastic cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40029/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

99 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will offer a commitment that he will not remove the half-rate carer’s allowance or reduce the current rate and that he will retain the annual non-means-tested respite care grant at its current rate in the upcoming budget. [40072/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

103 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will publish the national carers’ strategy. [40043/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 99 and 103 together.

During 2008, an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, with secretariat support provided by my Department, undertook work, including a public consultation process, to develop a National Carers' Strategy. However, because of the prevailing economic situation, it was not possible to set targets or time limits which could be achieved. In that context, rather than publishing a document which did not include any significant plans for the future, the Government decided not to publish a strategy. This position remains unchanged.

In considering any changes to social welfare schemes, full consideration is given to the impact of any proposals on the recipients involved. The Government is acutely aware and appreciative of the contribution made by carers. It was for that reason, that when resources were available, we invested heavily in improving social welfare rates and services for carers. Following this year's Budget, the carer's allowance rate for carers over 66 years of age has not changed and remains at €239. The rate of carer's allowance for someone under 66 is €212.

Since the introduction of the carer's allowance in 1990 payments to carers have been increased and expanded. Carer's allowance was increased in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by 12.1%, 6.5% and 3.3%, respectively. As a result, even with the reduction announced in the last Budget for carers under 66, the weekly rate of payment for the carers allowance is still almost 20% higher this year than in 2006 and more than 147% higher than in 1997.

The means test for carer's allowance has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse's earnings. Since April 2008, the income disregard has been €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 per week for a couple. This means that a couple with two children can earn in the region of €37,200 and qualify for the maximum rate of carer's allowance as well as the associated free travel and household benefits. A couple with an income in the region of €60,400 can still qualify for a minimum payment, as well as the associated free travel and household benefits package. These levels surpass the ‘Towards 2016' commitment to ensure those on average industrial earnings continue to qualify for a full carer's allowance.

From June 2005, the annual respite care grant was extended to all carers who are providing full time care to a person who needs such care, regardless of their income. The rate of the respite care grant has also been increased to €1,700 per year in respect of each care recipient since June 2008. The Government will continue to support carers and the people they care for within the resources available.

Question No. 93 answered with Question No. 87.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

94 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection when he intends to consolidate the appeals process for supplementary welfare claims from a two-step appeals process to one. [40036/10]

Where a person is not satisfied with a decision in relation to their entitlement to Supplementary Welfare Allowance, they have a right of appeal in accordance with the terms of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. This provides for the appeal to be considered by an Appeals Officer within the HSE. However, where this appeal is unsuccessful, the appellant can make a further appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO). It is assumed that this is the two-step appeals process to which the Deputy refers.

The appeals process in the case of the schemes administered by the Department differs in so far as there is only one right of appeal and that is to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Part of this process involves a review of the case by a deciding officer before it is forwarded to the SWAO. When the Community Welfare Service is transferred to my Department, the HSE Appeals Office will no longer have a role in relation to the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. Instead it is proposed that appealable decisions will be dealt with by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in the same way as for other schemes administered by my Department. The legislation governing Supplementary Welfare Allowance appeals when the Community Welfare Allowance transfer to my Department was provided for in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007. The provision is subject to a Commencement Order.

Questions Nos. 95 and 96 answered with Question No. 59.

Social Welfare Benefits

Brian O'Shea

Question:

97 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to allow far greater access to postgraduate study under the back to education allowance. [40048/10]

With effect from 19th July 2010, changes have been introduced to BTEA to increase flexibility in terms of accessing the scheme. The period for which a person is required to be on a qualifying social welfare payment before accessing BTEA was reduced from 12 months to 9 months (a 2 year qualifying period continues to apply to participants coming from Illness Benefit). People who are awarded statutory redundancy may access the scheme immediately, provided an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study. In addition, a person in certain circumstances can avail of BTEA to resume studies in a second or subsequent year of a third level course whereas prior to July, a person could only apply for BTEA if s/he was commencing year one of a course.

The back to education scheme covers courses of education from second level to higher diploma level in any discipline [level 8 in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)] and to a Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary and Secondary Teaching; level 9 in NFQ) which add significantly to a person's employability. BTEA will not usually be approved if a person holds a qualification equivalent or higher than the qualification for which the application has been received. Other postgraduate qualifications (level 9 or level 10) are not included.

However, a small number of cases have arisen where a college has granted an exemption from the requirement to hold a primary degree and has admitted a person to a Master's course on the basis of relevant life experience. In the context of the ongoing monitoring of the operation of the scheme, it has been decided to extend entitlement to the Back to Education Allowance in these instances on an exceptional basis.

The focus of the Back to Education Allowance is to assist those who are most marginalised and distant from the labour market to acquire the necessary education to improve their chances of becoming independent of the social welfare system. People in possession of a third level qualification have already achieved a high level of academic attainment which should impact positively on their employment prospects. Furthermore, the scheme was never intended to be an alternative form of funding for people entering or re-entering the third level education system.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Willie Penrose

Question:

98 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to make a charge on financial institutions and or utility companies to subsidise the work undertaken by the money advice and budgeting service in respect of mutual customers and clients. [40037/10]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is a free, independent and confidential service which assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. MABS promotes the importance of people coping with debt difficulties taking early action with their creditors and approaching MABS for help and guidance. This can be the first positive step for people in addressing debt difficulties. Often people will have multiple creditors and MABS money advisers will assist clients in working out budgets and negotiating on behalf of all creditors, including financial institutions and sub-prime lenders, to secure better terms for the client in managing the repayment of their debt.

In addition to face-to-face meetings with a money adviser, MABS operates a National Telephone Helpline, available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday. As 90% of clients presenting to MABS are assisted through the telephone helpline, which provides assisted self-help to ensure clients take steps to assess and address their situation, it would not be appropriate to place a financial charge on financial institutions and or utility companies in these instances.

In addition, MABS companies around the country are involved in many local education and information initiatives. This close involvement of MABS staff in education activity ensures that community education remains at the heart of the money advice process; promoting effective household budget management and empowering individuals to help themselves.

I do not propose to introduce measures whereby financial institutions and or utility companies subsidise the work of MABS as this would compromise the independence of MABS services, would not be appropriate where people use assisted self-help services, and would be extremely difficult to do given that most people have multiple creditors.

Question No. 99 answered with Question No. 92.
Question No. 100 answered with Question No. 68.

Social Welfare Code

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

101 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection the way he intends to reform the social welfare system to provide greater social security for the self-employed. [40049/10]

Self-employed people pay PRSI class S contributions which provide cover for long-term benefits such as state pension (contributory) and widows/widowers pension (contributory). Employees are covered by PRSI classes A, E, H and P, which provide cover for the above benefits as well as for short-term contingencies such as jobseekers and illness benefits. PRSI coverage is related to the risks associated with employment or self-employment, the annualised system of contributions for self-employed people and the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments. Self-employed people pay class S contributions at a rate of 3% per annum, as compared to the 14.75% full Class A contributions paid by employees and their employers, to reflect the narrower range of benefits they receive. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

There are no plans to extend cover for short-term benefits to this group of insured workers. Any such measure would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered within a budgetary context. Consideration would also have to be given to an appropriate increase in the rate of the PRSI Class S contribution.

Self-employed workers who do not qualify for an insurance-based benefit may establish entitlement to assistance-based payments such as jobseeker's allowance. They can apply for the means-tested jobseeker's allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In general their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year. In the current climate account is taken of the downward trend in the economy and the process recognises the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next.

Employment Support Services

Sean Sherlock

Question:

102 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection the way the PRSI employers incentive scheme has been promoted, and his intention to extend the scheme into 2011. [40053/10]

The Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme has been promoted through a number of channels. Information on the scheme is available on the Department's website at www.welfare.ie and also on the FAS website. The main information web page on this scheme on the Department's website was viewed 9,709 times between the 21st June and 22nd October 2010. There has also been a number of press releases in relation to the scheme.

In addition, information regarding the scheme was circulated through a number of agencies including Forfás, the Small firms Association and IBEC. Information was also circulated to the 3,754 people who have subscribed (free of charge) to the Department of Social Protection's PRSI mailing list. This mailing list primarily comprises employers and tax practitioners. The scheme is open to employers who create new and additional jobs in 2010. Successful applicants are exempted from liability to pay their share of PRSI for certain employees for 12 months from the date they are approved for the scheme. Extension of the scheme into 2011 is a matter for the Government to consider in a budgetary context.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 92.

Regulatory Management

Richard Bruton

Question:

104 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach if the OECD peer review team has yet published its report on the Government’s regulatory management capacity; if it has made the report available to the Government; and the key findings of the report. [40359/10]

The OECD Report on Better Regulation in Ireland was published today on the OECD website. It had been presented to Government in October to note its upcoming publication. The publication of the Report is being formally marked by a special conference organised by my Department in which the OECD will participate on 29th of this month.

The Report recognises the considerable progress made on the Better Regulation agenda since the original OECD review in 2001 which compares well with other EU countries. In particular, it commends the Better Regulation Unit (BRU) in my Department for its role as a highly active advocate of Better Regulation across Government and beyond. It acknowledges the BRU's role in raising awareness of the Better Regulation agenda and in the provision of supports for conducting Regulatory Impact Analysis. However, the report also identifies a need for greater engagement with the agenda across the Government system including a need for strong linkages between this agenda and economic renewal and public service transformation strategies.

There are a number of key areas which the report focuses on. With regard to the issue of Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), the OECD note that the Irish model and supports such as training, guidelines and helpdesk assistance compare well with those developed in other EU Member States. However, they also point out that the quality of RIAs require improvement together with more frequent publication. These issues are to be addressed by individual Ministers and their Departments. The report notes that while some work is underway to reduce administrative burdens on business considerable further effort will be required from all relevant Departments if the target of a 25% reduction by 2012 is to be made. The team acknowledged also that a good start had been made on addressing the issue of risk-based enforcement.

In addressing the issue of the accessibility of the law, the OECD note the complexity of the Irish legal system which makes a focus on accessibility all the more important. They stress the importance of maintaining a momentum on projects in this area in the face of tight resources. This includes, in particular, Statute Law Revision, Restatement, consolidation and the maintenance of the Statute Book. It is suggested that Local Authorities would be invited to take part in the administrative burden reduction programme. Enhanced consultation mechanisms between the national and local level are also suggested.

As part of its work on the implementation of the Government Statement on Economic Regulation of October 2009, the Senior Officials Group on Economic Regulation, which is chaired by my Department, will pursue the implementation of recommendations set out in the OECD report (from within existing resources).

Departmental Expenditure

James Bannon

Question:

105 Deputy James Bannon asked the Taoiseach the persons or bodies in receipt of subventions or grants from his Department; the amount paid to each recipient in the year such payments commenced; the amount paid to each recipient in the current year; to place in the Oireachtas Library the latest two sets of accounts for these payments furnished by such persons or bodies to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39684/10]

The following table details grants paid by my Department, to date in 2010. These amounts were paid under Subhead C, Commemoration Initiatives Fund which is a fund established to make resources available to groups and organisations for the study and commemoration of historic events of national importance. By providing financial support to local organisations, the aim of the Fund is to assist and encourage the development of local programmes of commemoration. Given the limited budget available, such funding is, in general and by necessity, of a token nature. In assessing projects for funding issues such as: impact, significance and relevance, geographic spread , balance between popular and academic, educational content and viability are taken into account annually.

Commemoration Initiative Fund — 2010 — €100,000 in the Taoiseach's Vote

Grants paid include:

€1,135 towards the restoration of a grave of John Moyney VC;

€2,000 towards the publication of book on the Famine, covering the Act of Union (Northern Ireland Building Communities Trust);

€2,000 towards a book on the experiences of Irish soldiers during World War 1 (O'Brien Press);

€1,500 towards research work into the history of Ulster (UCC);

€1,000 to the Suffolk Historical Society for the 150th anniversary of the consecration of its local Church of Ireland;

€5,000 to the National Folklore Collection towards a publication to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Irish Folklore Collection in 2011;

€23,000 to the Somme Association for a commemoration event held earlier this year in Gallipoli in recognition of the Irish men who fought and died there in World War 1.

Ireland Newfoundland Partnership

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

106 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the year the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership was set up; the role of the partnership; the annually funding it secured from his Department in each year from the year it was set up to when funding ceased in 2009; if he will provide a breakdown of the annual expenses of each board member of the agency for each year from when the partnership was set up until 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39705/10]

The Ireland Newfoundland Partnership (INP) was established in 2001 on foot of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government of Ireland and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The original agreement, signed by former Taoiseach John Bruton in 1996, together with then Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Tobin, was re-affirmed by my predecessor, Mr. Ahern in 1999 and 2004.

The role of the INP is to manage the agreement between the two Governments, recognising the deep historical links between the two Islands, and to identify new areas for collaboration. It assists Irish organisations to identify and carry out joint projects with Newfoundland partners through government, research, business, educational and cultural activities. The Partnership also aims to raise the awareness of Newfoundland and its Irish heritage. The administrative office of the INP, originally located under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has operated under the aegis of my Department since January 2004.

Since late 2009, the work of the Partnership was integrated into the main structure of my Department. There has been a budgetary saving of €300,000 which was previously provided in my Department's Vote. The Board has also been re-structured and renamed the Ireland Newfoundland Advisory Council. The annual budget provided for the INP from 2004 is outlined in the following table.

Year

Subhead

2004

313,000

2005

321,000

2006

337,000

2007

361,000

2008

354,000

2009

300,000

2010

0

Members do not receive a fee in connection with their work on the Advisory Council. Travel and subsistence expenses are paid in accordance with Department of Finance guidelines. The following members received expenses from 2004 to date.

Name

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Tomas C Hyland

4,696

7,378

2,593

4,132

2,340

795

0

Walter Kirwan

0

1,247

627

2,650

1,047

660

0

Patrick Murphy

620

1,016

0

343

0

0

0

Una Murphy

1,537

27

107

1,266

1,409

1,136

0

Caroline Senior

1,459

656

368

0

0

467

0

Total

8,313

10,324

3,695

8,391

4,796

3,058

0

Census of Population

Michael McGrath

Question:

107 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details of his plans for census 2011; the number of persons that will be employed by the Central Statistics Office for the completion of field work in Cork city and county. [39768/10]

The 2011 census will be managed in the field by specially recruited census field staff organised nationally as follows:

6 Census Liaison Officers located in census HQ in Swords responsible for the overall management of the census field operation for their area;

44 Census Regional Supervisors located in regional offices across Ireland responsible for the conduct of the census within their region;

440 Census Field Supervisors working from their own homes responsible for the work of a local team of 11 census enumerators;

5,000 Census enumerators working from their own homes responsible for the delivery and collection of census forms to every home in their area.

Within Cork city and county a total of 436 census enumerators and 50 census field supervisors will be employed; a further 4 people will have responsibility for the management of 4 census regions either completely or partially located in Cork County.

Departmental Properties

John O'Mahony

Question:

108 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Taoiseach the number of premises and sites being rented or leased not in use and the cost of maintenance and security on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39807/10]

John O'Mahony

Question:

109 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Taoiseach the number of premises and sites rented or leased by his Department; the location of same; if they are in use and the cost for 2008 and 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39822/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 109 together.

My Department does not rent or lease any premises or sites.

Departmental Expenditure

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

110 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Taoiseach the savings that have been made in his Department through the use of open source software packages and generic consumables; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39927/10]

Procurement of goods and services by my Department is carried out under procedures recommended by the National Public Procurement Policy Unit in the Department of Finance which is responsible for procurement policy, national procurement guidelines and the application of EU directives. These procedures are designed to ensure that appropriate competitive processes are in place to select the providers of goods and services which represent best value to the Department, taking account of a number of important criteria including cost and suitability for purpose.

The procedures in place in my Department, which vary according to the nature and amount of the procurement involved, require purchasers to specify accurately their requirements; to select an appropriate competitive process whether by seeking quotations, advertising, use of central purchasing facilities and centrally negotiated framework agreements or more formal tender processes; to evaluate alternatives according to preset criteria; to agree clear contract terms and to monitor service delivery.

Open source software solutions and generic consumables are not explicitly specified when seeking quotations/tenders but if offered by providers are evaluated against the preset criteria to determine the provider that represents best value to the Department. While no open source software packages are used as part of my Department's email and work support systems the most recent website developed was built using an open source content management system.

Departmental Staff

James Bannon

Question:

111 Deputy James Bannon asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of the number of persons employed in the different sections or divisions of the Department of the Taoiseach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39960/10]

In accordance with the business needs of my Department, divisions and sections change from time to time. The following table provides a breakdown of whole-time equivalent staff numbers working in the various divisions in my Department at the end of October 2010.

Divisional breakdown

Staff Numbers — (whole-time equivalent)

Government Secretariat and related

13.80

Government Information Services and Communications Unit

17.80

Protocol and General

7.85

Private Office (Taoiseach, Government Chief Whip and Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs)

33.00

Northern Ireland

7.80

European and International Affairs

8.60

Social Policy

6.60

Economic Policy

9.60

Social Partnership

4.00

Public Service Modernisation

17.60

Personnel and Change Management Unit

12.53

Finance Unit

7.00

Information Technology

9.40

Management Services Unit (including support staff), Archives and Library

31.30

Internal Audit

1.60

Departmental Procurement

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

112 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Taoiseach if any printing contracts for his Department were awarded or given to any company from outside the State in each of the past three years, and if so the company appointed and their location; the amount of the contract; if tendering took place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40255/10]

No printing contracts for my Department have been awarded or given to any company from outside the State in the past three years.

Interdepartmental Committees

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

113 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach if he will name all Cabinet committees in operation here in the year 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of times each committee has met in 2009 and to date in 2010. [40329/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Cabinet Committee

Number of Meetings in 2009

Number of Meetings in 2010

Economic Renewal and Jobs

12

6

Science Technology and Innovation (subsumed into Economic Renewal and Jobs in June 2010)

1

Health

8

4

Social Inclusion, Children & Integration

2

1

Irish and the Gaeltacht

3

Transforming Public Services

7

3

Climate Change and Energy Security

2

European Affairs

6

3

Aspects of International Human Rights

2

Strategic Directions for Local Government (established in January 2010)

17 (including on date of establishment)

Departmental Bodies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

114 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the number of high level groups operating within his Department; the purpose of each group; the year each group was set up; the number of times each group has met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40341/10]

In answering these questions I am interpreting "high level groups" as groups which are working on issues of specific interest, which are chaired by my Department and which include representatives from other parts of the civil/public service and elsewhere. Accordingly, the information sought by the Deputy is detailed in the following table.

Name of High Level Group

Purpose

Year Set Up

Number of Meetings Approximately

Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on European Affairs (ICCEUA)

Works to ensure that there is a coordinated Irish approach to key policy issues at European level. The Committee has a particular focus on ensuring the timely transposition of European measures by Ireland. The Committee is also briefed on issues arising at key working groups in the EU. The meetings of the Committee serve to share information among Government Departments on EU issues.

2002

82

Senior Officials Group on European Affairs (SOG EU)

Works to ensure that there is a coordinated national approach to EU Affairs. It may also prepare specific material for the Cabinet Committee on European Affairs as required.

2004

87

Senior Officials Group on Health

Supports Cabinet Committee on Health.

2004

49

Working Group on Long-term Care

Taking account of the proposals in the Mercer and O’Shea Reports to: identify the policy options for a financially sustainable system of long-term care; and rationalise the range of benefits, services and grants (both statutory and non-statutory) currently in place, and address associated issues.

2005

24

National Disability Strategy Stakeholders Monitoring Group

Monitors progress on the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS).

2006

8

Senior Officials Group on Disability

Monitors the NDS and reports to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion, Children and Integration.

2006

9

Advisory Group on Social Finance and Philanthropy

Monitor and advise on the implementation of the social finance commitments in Towards 2016.

2007

2

Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) Network

To promote best practice and facilitate the use of Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) within and across Government Departments and Offices.

2007

10

Senior Officials Group on Climate Change & Energy Security

To support the work of the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security and ensure appropriate synergies with the relevant Cross Departmental Teams.

2007

30

Senior Officials Group on Economic Renewal

To support the work of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal

2008

26

Senior Officials Group on Labour Market Issues

To support the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal in relation to labour market activation policies.

2008

18

Marine Co-ordinating Group

To promote increased co-ordination among relevant Departments in relation to marine related matters.

2009

20

Transforming Public Services Secretaries General Steering Group

Supports the Cabinet Committee on Transforming Public Services.

2009

29

Senior Officials Group on Economic Regulation

To monitor and implement the actions set out in the Government Statement on Economic Regulation which was published in October 2009.

2009

8

Regulatory Liaison Group

The Regulatory Liaison Group, which includes the Senior Officials Group on Economic Regulation and key economic regulators, was set up following the first Annual Regulatory Forum in February 2010 in order to progress key actions set out in the Government Statement on Economic Regulation and other issues agreed at the Forum.

2010

2

Transforming Public Service (TPS) Assistant Secretary Group

To widen consultation into the development of the transformation agenda for the Civil Service.

2010

6

Business Regulation

Richard Bruton

Question:

115 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach if his Department was required to take part in the interdepartmental group on administrative burden reduction; if his Department has yet listed information obligations that his Department’s regulations impose on business; if so, the number of information obligations listed; if his Department has yet assessed which requirements are the most burdensome; if his Department has measured the actual cost to business of the most burdensome requirements and if so, the total cost. [40356/10]

The Department of the Taoiseach is represented on the Interdepartmental Group on Administrative Burden Reduction. e Central Statistics Office (CSO) is represented separately on the Group. The Department itself has no legislation that impacts on business. As the CSO has legislation that impacts on business, they are fully engaged in the burden reduction programme.

It should be acknowledged that the compilation of business statistics is absolutely necessary. Therefore, while it is essential to minimise burdens, it is neither possible nor desirable to completely eliminate burdens of this kind. In this context, the CSO published a ranked list of 20 information obligations in the Standard Cost Model Report — Measurement of administrative burden imposed on Irish business by Central Statistics Office inquiries. This report was published in August 2010 and is available on the CSO website. The report estimates that the total cost of the burden to businesses arising from CSO activity for 2008 (the most recent year available) was €10.8 million using the standard cost model (which assumes full compliance). The CSO also publishes an annual statement on total burden to business arising from CSO activity. These reports are available on the CSO website.

FÁS Training Programmes

Róisín Shortall

Question:

116 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of places filled under the short-time working training programme; the amount spent on the scheme; when the scheme commenced and when it is due to wind up; the number of employers involved; if she will provide any information she has on any reviews of the effectiveness of the scheme; her plans to expand the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40224/10]

The Pilot Short Time Working Training Programme was introduced in May 2009. FÁS initially administered the programme, which aimed to provide training to people on systematic short time for the days they are not working. The programme aimed to provide two days training a week for up to 277 workers over a 52-week period and they received training free of charge for these two days. The Department of Social Protection continues to pay participants social welfare entitlements whilst receiving this training.

In the 2010 budget, FÁS was not allocated funding for the Short Time Working Training Programme, instead Skillnets has been providing for its inclusion in its training networks programme (TNP) of limited numbers of unemployed persons with the emphasis, where possible, on priority cohorts on the live register. It is intended that this will also include provision for some people on reduced working weeks and this supersedes the FÁS Short Time Working Training Programme initiative. Skillnets are now providing training to approximately 4,800 unemployed persons. Skillnets have embarked on an initiative to provide learning support to the unemployed via existing structures of networks who support the learning needs of the unemployed. This has resulted in a very high standard of quality and depth of the support for the unemployed.

In June 2010, Skillnets surveyed unemployed individuals who trained with networks between June and May. 86% of all respondents agreed that the training increased their chances of securing employment. Since completing Skillnets training, one in five people secured work, one in four progressed into further education/training and one in seven became self employed. FÁS are currently in the process of collating other specific information requested about the Short Time Working Training Programme and when this information becomes available FÁS will forward it directly to the Deputy.

Adult Education

Brian O'Shea

Question:

117 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will approve the mobility allowance scheme under a fund (details supplied); if she will address other concerns of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39671/10]

The issues raised by the Question are currently being progressed by my Department in conjunction with FÁS and the Waterford Crystal EGF Co-ordination Unit.

Departmental Expenditure

James Bannon

Question:

118 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the persons or bodies in receipt of subventions or grants from her Department; the amount paid to each recipient in the year such payments commenced; the amount paid to each recipient in the current year; to place in the Oireachtas Library the latest two sets of accounts for these payments furnished by such persons or bodies to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39677/10]

The detailed information requested by the Deputy is not readily available and would involve a very significant amount of administrative time to compile. However, details of public funding disbursements are made available in a range of publications on an annual basis. The Revised Estimates Volume, published annually by the Department of Finance, contains a significant level of detail regarding funding allocations for the year of publication, together with details of funds disbursed by the Exchequer in the previous year. Additionally the Comptroller and Auditor General publishes the Appropriation Accounts, which are the annual accounts of Government Departments.

Both the Revised Estimates Volume and the Appropriation Accounts categorise expenditure by Government Department and by subhead designation. Within the subheads categorised, major organisations funded by individual Departmental Votes, including the Vote for my Department, can be identified. Other tables within these publications contain significant further information. Additionally, on an annual basis, my Department posts on its website details of organisations part-funded from National Lottery funds. In this regard, funding details for the years 2007-2009 are provided in tabular form in the following spreadsheet. If there is a specific person or body in which the Deputy has a particular interest I would be happy to supply any additional information that is held by my Department in this matter.

2007 National Lottery Funding from Vote 26 — Education and Science

National Lottery Voted Funds Payments in the year ended 31 December 2007

General Expenses of Youth Organisations and Other Expenditure in Relation to Youth Activities (Subhead B.9.)

42,616,671

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

229,700

Irish Language (Subhead B.10.)

1,178,401

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

929,000

Total

44,953,772

Analysis of Payments from the Grant-in-Aid Fund for General Expenses of Youth Organisations and Other Expenditure in relation to Youth Activities (Subhead B.9.)

Assessor of Youth Work — Salary Costs

79,124

Belvedere Youth Project, Dublin

60,000

Causeway

83,056

Child Protection Training

142,267

Co-operation Ireland

55,134

Council of Europe English Language Course

45,000

Curragh Youth Project, Co. Kildare

60,000

Development Fund for Youth Work Organisations

450,969

Gaisce — President’s Award Scheme

933,000

Garda Vetting

300,000

Grants to Youth Organisations (Schedule A)

12,698,180

Intercultural Strategy

90,000

Irish Girl Guides

35,250

Leargas

692,242

Local Voluntary Youth Councils

65,000

Local Youth Club Grants Scheme

1,600,003

Local Youth Club Grants Scheme — Administrative Costs

63,000

Maynooth Diploma Course

165,000

Milford Community Youth Project, Co. Donegal

13,500

Miscellaneous Expenses

17,235

Miscellaneous — Youth Information

8,365

National Association of Youth Drama

45,000

National Youth Arts Programme

127,000

National Youth Council of Ireland

15,000

National Youth Health Programme

123,500

National Youth Work Advisory Committee

8,568

No Name Club

101,663

North/South Youth Work

5,505

Ogras

24,600

Other Projects under Disadvantaged Youth (Schedule B)

349,264

Remember US Youth Project

60,000

Scouting Ireland

291,000

Skibberreen Youth Project, Co Cork

13,500

Special Project for Youth Schemes

19,910,652

VEC’s — Additional Programme Costs

146,200

Young Irish Film Makers

80,000

Young Mens Christian Association

26,500

Youth Card/USIT

4,640

Youth Officers — Capacity Development of VEC’s

1,488,815

Youth Information Centres

2,114,074

Youth Programme — External Evaluation

24,865

Total

42,616,671

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

Cultural Organisations (Schedule C)

229,700

Irish Language (Subhead B.10.)

Courses in Irish

1,178,401

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

Aontas

472,000

Irish Countrywomen’s Association

23,000

National Adult Literacy Agency

327,000

People’s College

107,000

Total

929,000

Schedule A

Grants to Youth Organisations ( Subhead B.9.)

An Óige

240,969

Athlone Community Services

49,161

Boys Brigade

75,250

Catholic Guides of Ireland

344,274

Catholic Youth Care

1,134,290

Church of Ireland Youth Department

237,203

Comhthraenáil na nOgeagrais Gaeilge

21,367

Confederation of Peace Corps

171,956

ECO — UNESCO Club

161,938

Experiment in International Living

35,556

Feachtas

117,552

Foróige

2,492,926

Girls Brigade

57,805

Irish Girl Guides

562,512

Junior Chamber Ireland

22,619

Macra na Feirme

596,401

National Association for Youth Drama

133,041

National Federation of Archery Clubs

71,339

National Youth Council of Ireland

787,539

No Name Club

194,074

Ogra, Chorcaí

728,803

Ogras

247,322

Order of Malta

63,173

Scouting Ireland

1,144,117

Voluntary Services International

107,712

Young Christian Workers

126,019

YMCA

147,507

Youth Work Ireland

2,625,755

Total

12,698,180

Schedule B

Special Projects for Youth (Subhead B.9.)

City of Dublin Youth Service Board — Annual Grant

129,881

Foróige Development Officer, North Co. Dublin

103,062

Foróige Development Officer, Co. Donegal VEC

87,624

Ronanstown Pilot Project

15,407

Sheelin Project, Co. Cavan VEC

13,290

Total

349,264

Schedule C

Analysis of Payments from the Grant-in-Aid Fund for General Expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations (Subhead B.14.)

Artane School of Music

45,000

Feis Maitiu

45,000

Foras Éireann

12,700

National Youth Orchestra of Ireland

127,000

Total

229,700

2008 National Lottery Funding from Vote 26 — Education and Science

National Lottery Voted Funds Payments in the year ended 31 December 2008

General Expenses of Youth Organisations and Other Expenditure in Relation to Youth Activities (Subhead B.9.)

43,567,137

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

229,700

Irish Language (Subhead B.10.)

1,431,705

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

956,000

Total

46,184,542

Analysis of Payments from the Grant-in-Aid Fund for General Expenses of Youth Organisations and Other Expenditure in relation to Youth Activities (Subhead B.9.)

Causeway, Exchange Programme

72,298

Child Protection Unit

125,380

Co-operation Ireland Exchange Programme

49,270

City of Cork VEC

36,035

Development of Quality Standards Framework

30,613

Development Fund for Youth Work Organisations

300,000

Gaisce — President’s Award Scheme

956,000

Grants to Youth Organisations (Schedule A)

13,465,132

Intercultural Strategy

39,731

Leargas

638,552

Local Voluntary Youth Councils

58,500

Local Youth Club Grants Scheme

1,800,000

Maynooth Diploma Course

115,000

Maynooth Research

50,000

Milford Community Youth Project, Co. Donegal

15,000

Millstreet Youth Project/Club

30,000

Miscellaneous Expenses

4,498

Miscellaneous — Youth Information

8,735

National Association of Youth Drama

25,000

National Youth Arts Programme

154,278

National Youth Health Programme

142,000

National Youth Work Advisory Committee

6,092

North/South Youth Work

4,915

Other Projects including Disadvantaged Youth (Schedule B)

21,381,006

Quality Standards Framework — Salary and related expenses

89,771

Scouting Ireland

8,900

The Fuse Youth Café, Co. Cork

30,000

The Hive, Wexford

25,000

VEC’s — Capacity Development — Youth Officers

1,561,900

VEC’s — QSF Fund

144,000

Youth Card/USIT

4,164

Youth in Action Programme — Annual Declaration of Assurance — Leargas

4,437

Youth Officers — ICTU

9,000

Youth Information Centres

2,166,930

Youth Information — Support Partnership

15,000

Total

43,567,137

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

Cultural Organisations (Schedule C)

229,700

Irish Language (Subhead B.10.)

Courses in Irish

1,431,705

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

Aontas

487,000

Irish Countrywomen’s Association

23,000

National Adult Literacy Agency

336,000

People’s College

110,000

Total

956,000

Schedule A

Grants to Youth Organisations (Subhead B.9.)

An Óige

246,993

Athlone Community Services

50,390

Boys Brigade

78,631

Catholic Guides of Ireland

354,381

Catholic Youth Care

1,295,147

Church of Ireland Youth Department

246,133

Comhthraenáil na nOgeagrais Gaeilge

21,901

Confederation of Peace Corps

176,255

ECO — UNESCO Club

167,486

Experiment in International Living

39,445

Feachtas

121,991

Foróige

2,590,249

Girls Brigade

62,250

Irish Girl Guides

596,575

Junior Chamber Ireland

23,184

Macra na Feirme

611,311

National Association for Youth Drama

139,367

National Federation of Archery Clubs

74,622

National Youth Council of Ireland

807,227

No Name Club

267,051

Ogra, Chorcaí

749,023

Ogras

255,005

Order of Malta

66,252

Scouting Ireland

1,202,720

Voluntary Services International

111,905

Young Christian Workers

130,669

YMCA

210,570

Young Irish Film Makers

47,000

Youth Work Ireland

2,721,399

Total

13,465,132

Schedule B

Special Projects for Youth (Subhead B.9.)

Dun Laoghaire VEC

501,901

City of Dublin VEC

4,782,197

City of Cork VEC

1,367,153

County Cork VEC

476,672

City of Galway VEC

1,128,766

Co. Galway VEC

38,823

Co. Leitrim VEC

39,109

City of Limerick VEC

482,143

Co. Limerick VEC

405,728

City of Waterford VEC

1,202,187

County Dublin VEC

2,745,071

Co. Wicklow VEC

300,815

Co. Kerry VEC

247,235

Co. Tipperary VEC

230,000

Catholic Youth Care

37,991

National Association of Travellers Centres

871,393

Youth Work Ireland

5,605,293

Offaly County Council

60,240

Tionscadal Oibre don Ogra

76,364

Health Service Executive

61,500

Co. Donegal VEC

106,441

Co. Wexford VEC

115,000

Co. Longford VEC

106,441

City of Dublin Youth Service Board — Annual Grant

133,128

Foróige Development Officer, North Co. Dublin

115,000

Foróige Development Officer, Co. Donegal VEC

115,000

Ronanstown Pilot Project

15,793

Sheelin Project, Co. Cavan VEC

13,622

Total

21,381,006

Schedule C

Analysis of Payments from the Grant-in-Aid Fund for General Expenses of Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organisations (Subhead B.14.)

Artane School of Music

45,000

Feis Maitiu

45,000

Foras Éireann

12,700

National Youth Orchestra of Ireland

127,000

Total

229,700

National Lottery Funding Under subheads B.1 and B.14, a total of €1.148 million was grant aided to support adult education and cultural activities. The subheads in Vote 26 from which the funding was paid are noted below.

2009 National Lottery Funding from Vote 26 — Education and Science

Recipients of Funding from National Lottery

2009

2008

€000

€000

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

941

956

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

207

230

General Expenses of Youth Organisations and Other Expenditure in Relation to Youth Activities (Subhead B.9.)1

43,567

Irish Language (Subhead B.10.)

1,432

Total

1,148

46,185

1Functions in relation to Youth Organisations and Youth Activities were transferred out of Vote 26 with effect from 1 January 2009 to Vote 41 (Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs).

Recipients of Grants from Subhead B.1 — Adult Education Organisations in 2009

Name of Recipients

Sum received

Aontas

477,000.00

National Adult Literacy Agency

333,000.00

Peoples College

108,000.00

Irish Countrywomen’s Association

23,000.00

Total

941,000.00

Recipients of Grants from Subhead B.14 — Cultural Activities in 2009

Name of Recipients

Sum received

Foras Éireann

11,400.00

National Youth Orchestra of Ireland

114,000.00

Feis Maitiu

41,000.00

Artane School of Music

41,000.00

Total

207,400.00

FÁS Training Programmes

Joan Burton

Question:

119 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the FÁS Cabra training centre is due to close, or part close, in December or at any point in the near future; if all participants in training courses will be facilitated in completing their training courses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39696/10]

I am advised that, following a recent inspection of the roof of the FÁS training centre in Cabra, a proposal will be brought to the FÁS Board in November for the phased exit from the centre. These necessary measures are being taken by FÁS primarily with the health and safety of the centre's staff and its trainees in mind. All current courses taking place at Cabra will, where necessary, be redeployed to other Dublin training centres. Where possible, future night training will be facilitated in other FÁS training centres.

Schools Building Projects

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

120 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the action she has taken to resolve the dispute at a school (details supplied) regarding completion of works to standard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39723/10]

My Department is aware of the difficulties that have arisen between the school in question, the building contractor and the Consultant Architect that has resulted in delaying the satisfactory conclusion of this project. The bulk of the funding due for payment under the terms of the contract between the school and the contractor for this project has issued to the school on foot of appropriate certification that certain works have been completed. This certification is a normal requirement before funding can be provided in relation to school projects. The dismissal of the Consultant Architect by the school authority has created difficulties in relation to final certification of the satisfactory completion of the project and, consequently, payment of the balance of funding due. My Department has written to the School Management Authority seeking a meeting to discuss the ongoing difficulties.

Special Educational Needs

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

121 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39759/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie. The NCSE has introduced an appeals process whereby schools and parents, where appropriate, may seek to appeal the decision of a SENO in relation to the allocation of resources. Information regarding the appeals process is available on the NCSE's website at www.ncse.ie. It is open to a school to appeal a SENO's decision under this appeals process.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

122 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39760/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. As the Deputy's question relates to matters concerning operations of the NCSE, I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Schools Building Projects

Michael McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for phase two of a primary schools development (details supplied) in County Cork. [39774/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Phase I development of the school to which he refers was completed in June of last year under my Department's rapid delivery programme. My officials are currently undertaking some preliminary work on the proposed Phase II development. Officials from my Department will be touch with the school authorities shortly, in relation to progression of the project.

Michael McGrath

Question:

124 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the details of the revised tender arrangements to apply for the construction of a national school (details supplied) in County Cork and when she expects the project to move on site. [39776/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the project to which he refers encountered delays in securing planning permission and land transfers. These problems were compounded by certain issues that subsequently arose with the preferred bidder and which resulted in a recent decision to re-tender the project. It is envisaged that the project will be re-tendered shortly. Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that it will progress to construction in early 2011.

Higher Education Grants

Joe McHugh

Question:

125 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the Student Support Bill will make allowances for students who attend a college (details supplied) and are unable to avail of third level grants because it is recognised as a private commercial college; if the Department of Education and Skills will base its grants system on financial circumstances instead of the form of education being received; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39788/10]

The statutory framework for the Higher Education Grants Scheme, as set out in the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1969 to 1992, provides for means-tested higher education grants to assist students to attend full-time third level education in approved institutions. The institutions approved under the scheme are, generally speaking, publicly-funded third level colleges offering full-time courses at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Each year, the Higher Education Grants Scheme specifies a list of institutions approved for the purposes of the scheme.

My Department provides very significant funding to publicly-funded third level institutions in the State. This funding is used to provide a very broad range of courses to meet both economic and societal needs. Private commercial colleges, in general, operate on a "for profit" basis and the State has no say in directing their operations. Section 8 of the Student Support Bill as published makes provision for the Minister, in certain circumstances and taking certain matters into account, to prescribe an educational institution as being an approved institution for grants purposes. However, I have no plans to extend the scope of the student grant schemes to private colleges operated on a "for profit" basis at this time.

Departmental Properties

John O'Mahony

Question:

126 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of premises and sites being rented or leased not currently in use and the cost of maintenance and security on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39799/10]

John O'Mahony

Question:

127 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of premises and sites rented or leased by her Department; the location of same; if they are currently in use and the cost for 2008 and 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39814/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 127 together.

The renting / leasing of Government offices and properties is the responsibility of the Property Management Services, Office of Public Works, which acts as an agent for all Government Departments. The terms and conditions of the leases are a matter for OPW.

Special Educational Needs

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

128 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an update on contacts with a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if she will note the concerns of the school community in respect of issues regarding staffing and the need for immediate action; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39826/10]

The Deputy is aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in all mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support and conveys decisions on applications directly to schools without recourse to my Department. Neither I, nor the Department of Education and Skills, interfere with the allocation decisions taken by the NCSE in schools.

As I have previously clarified, I can confirm that my Department has been in contact with the school in question, by letter of 3rd September, to clarify issues raised by them in relation to the school's enrolment policy and also to advise of the role of the NCSE regarding the determination of support levels for pupils with special educational needs in special schools. It is my understanding that the NCSE is presently liaising with the school in question to monitor supports in place for pupils currently enrolled in the school as well as evaluating further applications for support. The NCSE has advised my Department that it hopes to conclude this process shortly.

I wish to assure the Deputy that supports will continue to be made available to schools which have enrolled pupils who qualify for such support and children with special educational needs will continue to have access to an appropriate education in line with my Department's policy. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

School Accommodation

Joe McHugh

Question:

129 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will facilitate a school (details supplied) that is currently paying €60,000 annual rent for facilities that are less than ideal at an alternative educational facility in the town; if she will expedite this matter in view of the fact that a decision would have to be made and communicated to the various relevant parties by the end of November 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39838/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school to which he refers has provisional recognition from my Department and that the matter of school accommodation is one, in the first instance, for the school Patron. My Department has no record of having received correspondence from the school authority in question regarding a proposal to relocate from their current premises. Any such proposal received from the school authority will be considered and a response communicated to the school authority in due course.

Skills Development

Tom Hayes

Question:

130 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the assistance that can be given to participants on a course (details supplied) who took their examinations in June 2009, to enable them to receive their certificates and to ensure that the certificates are dated 2009. [39840/10]

It is a matter for providers or organisers of programmes of education and training such as the one referred to by the Deputy to provide the relevant information and documentation to FETAC for certification in a timely manner, and FETAC encourages providers to do so. It would seem that in this case an unacceptable period of time has elapsed between the completion of courses and assessments and the submission of a request for certification to FETAC. I understand that a number of providers use the premises referred to by the Deputy, and if the Deputy provides further details on the particular provider concerned I will forward that information to FETAC.

With regard to the date of certification, FETAC is not in a position to certify retrospectively learning which has been undertaken. FETAC can only certify learning once all of the relevant information and documentation has been submitted to it by the provider concerned, and FETAC provides opportunities for certification four times per year.

Vocational Education Committees

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

131 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans regarding the proposal to amalgamate the vocational educational committees of Kerry, Limerick and Limerick city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39858/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

138 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the estimated savings that will accrue from the restructuring of the vocational education committee model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40079/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

139 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the criteria considered in the context of developing the restructured vocational education committee model; the factors that led to the final proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40080/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

140 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if, in the context of the restructuring of vocational education committees, administrative staff will be made redundant or redeployed; the savings that will accrue in this regard; the number of staff that will be affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40081/10]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

157 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money she expects to save by the amalgamation of the vocational education committees; the savings expected and the way they will be made regarding the amalgamation of Cavan and Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40308/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131, 138 to 140, inclusive, and 157 together.

The Government has decided to reduce the overall number of VECs from 33 to 16 and to the merger of particular city and or county VECs. My Department has commenced work on the preparation of legislation so that it can be brought forward in 2011. I have framed this restructuring, having regard to the need to address the current low scale and size of operations in particular VECs together with the need to retain and support the flexibility and adaptability which has characterised the VEC sector to date along with the requirement to meet future challenges across the school sector generally. In addition, geographic factors such as the total area covered by a VEC, the distance between extremities of the area, the road network within the area and the alignment of other regional structures have been taken into account in arriving at these combinations.

I am satisfied that the scale of operations of a significant number of VECs makes restructuring of the sector a key priority to ensure that each VEC has the critical mass of activity while at the same time, retaining the flexibility and responsiveness to meet the needs of the population for which it caters. A VEC's budget for service delivery is the broadest measure of activity. In order to ensure that each VEC will have the required critical mass of operations under the revised structure, I sought to bring as many of the new VEC areas as possible, taking account of the other criteria outlined earlier to a level of activity which would require a budget of €50 million. In this new arrangement, the smallest VEC will have a budget of €39 million and the median for the individual budget measure of scale of operations will move from €26 million at present to €59 million with 13 of the proposed 16 VECs having a budget of €50 million or more.

Flexibility and responsiveness to changing and emerging needs has been a general feature of the operation of VECs. I am satisfied that this restructuring of VECs will not only retain and support this demonstrated capacity for flexibility and adaptability but also position the VEC sector to meet future challenges across the school sector generally and the proposed reconfiguration has been framed on that basis. Some of the likely savings from the restructuring of the VECs will come from the sale of existing VEC buildings. The potential revenue to be raised from the sale of these assets, however, is closely linked to the current state of the property market and it may not be possible to dispose of such buildings satisfactorily in the short term.

This reconfiguration can over time yield savings in the recurrent cost of the headquarter functions of VECs which at present is of the order of €42 million in total, primarily comprising pay provision. The Special Group suggested savings of €3 million. I am satisfied that a saving of that order is reasonable in the medium term.

Many of the detailed aspects of the restructuring, including the location of the headquarters of the new VECs and the number of administrative staff which each of the new VEC entities will have, will be considered and worked through by my Department in conjunction with the VECs involved in any one merger before decisions are taken. Implementation will involve consultation and negotiations with the unions representing employees in the sector and other stakeholders. The Croke Park Agreement provides the backdrop for these negotiations.

Schools Building Projects

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

132 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide information in relation to progress made in regard to the full purchase of the site upon which a school (details supplied) in County Meath is to be located; if she will set out a timeframe for the completion of the purchase of the site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39890/10]

My Department is currently in negotiations with a landowner with a view to acquiring a site for the school referred to by the Deputy and to this end has recently made a formal offer to acquire the lands. A response is awaited. Due to the commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions, I am not in a position to comment further on the matter at this time. Once this acquisition is concluded, the proposed building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

Special Educational Needs

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

133 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when the National Council for Special Education will allocate a special needs assistant to help a student (details supplied) attending a school in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39896/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects

John O'Mahony

Question:

134 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when funding will be provided for a new school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39904/10]

It is my Department's intention to provide a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers on a site which is being made available by the VEC. My officials are currently undertaking some preliminary work on the proposed project. Officials from my Department will be touch with the school authorities shortly, in relation to progression of the project.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard Allen

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) was refused an education laptop. [39905/10]

The application in respect of the pupil referred to by the Deputy has been examined by the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) with assigned responsibility for the school in question. The SENO has advised my Department that based on documentation provided, the pupil in question does not meet the criteria for the provision of this equipment. Accordingly, my Department is not in a position to sanction funding.

Departmental Expenditure

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

136 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the savings that have been made in her Department through the use of open source software packages and generic consumables; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39919/10]

My Department uses both proprietary and open source software. There is ongoing debate as to whether proprietary or open source software delivers lower total cost of ownership. Any savings that may have accrued from the use of open source software within my Department cannot be accurately quantified as systems of comparable specification have not been developed in both technologies. Generic consumables are not in use within my Department as hardware vendors recommend and only support use of their own brand consumables in their equipment.

FÁS Training Programmes

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

137 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied) in relation to FÁS payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39944/10]

The issue of present entitlement to payment of a FÁS training allowance is set out in policy measures that were announced as part of the Budget for 2010. The matter raised in the correspondence referred to by the Deputy is currently under review.

Questions Nos. 138 to 140, inclusive, answered with Question No. 131.

Schools Building Projects

Damien English

Question:

141 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of a new post-primary school building at a location (details supplied) in County Meath for which a site has been purchased in 2009 to facilitate this project; when will the design team be in a position to advance the school project; when she envisages construction works to commence; the reason for the delay in the process to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40096/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has completed the acquisition of a site for the provision of a new post-primary school in County Meath. A proposal to construct a new school was assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

School Staffing

Brian O'Shea

Question:

142 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will allow the same appointment numbers for assistants to a school as apply to another school ( details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40106/10]

The number of mainstream class teachers appropriate to a school for the current school year is determined by reference to the school's valid enrolment on 30 September, 2009 in accordance with the staffing schedule (Primary Circular 0021/2010) which is available on my Department's website. The schedule sets outs in a clear and transparent way the staffing schedule for Ordinary National Schools, Gaeltacht Schools and Gaelscoileanna.

Overseas Students

Michael Ring

Question:

143 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 19 October 2010, if she will clarify the discrepancy between the figures given by her for full-time overseas students as given to her by Enterprise Ireland at 26,000 in 2009 and the statistical data published by the Higher Education Authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40107/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

144 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she is satisfied that the statistical information on the country of origin of students at full-time higher education colleges here, as published by the Higher Education Authority, is accurate and comprehensive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40110/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 143 together.

There are a number of differences in the way the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Enterprise Ireland collect and report data pertaining to international students, reflecting the different purposes for which the data sets are intended. In brief, the Enterprise Ireland data is collected from a larger number of institutions, and covers more categories of student than the HEA data. In line with its remit to promote international education, including both the public and private sectors, Enterprise Ireland reports data from 51 institutions, including universities, institutes and technology and other institutions in receipt of State funding and also HETAC-recognised private sector institutions. In this data, it includes short term exchange students.

The HEA restricts its reporting to full-time students in the universities, institutes of technology and seven other institutions which are in receipt of public funding. Their figures do not include certain categories of exchange students. In line with the Government's new international education strategy, Investing in Global Relationships, it is intended that, from 2011, an annual report on international education will be produced which includes data on all international students in Ireland, bringing together data from the HEA, Enterprise Ireland and also Fáilte Ireland, which collects information on English language students.

Schools Building Projects

Brian Hayes

Question:

145 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will visit to see at first hand the problems experienced at a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40113/10]

My Department is aware of the difficulties that have arisen between the school in question, the building contractor and the Consultant Architect that has resulted in delaying the satisfactory conclusion of this project. The bulk of the funding due for payment under the terms of the contract between the school and the contractor for this project has issued to the school on foot of appropriate certification that certain works have been completed. This certification is a normal requirement before funding can be provided in relation to school projects. The dismissal of the Consultant Architect by the school authority has created difficulties in relation to final certification of the satisfactory completion of the project and, consequently, payment of the balance of funding due. My Department have recently written to the School Management Authority seeking a meeting to discuss the ongoing difficulties.

Teachers’ Remuneration

John Cregan

Question:

146 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a teacher (details supplied) is only paid a pass primary degree allowance despite the fact that they hold an honours degree in accountancy and if the reason for this decision can be verified by way of identifying the appropriate departmental guidelines. [40116/10]

The rate of the honours degree allowance payable by my Department is provided for in Circular Letter 0004/2010. It is payable in respect of primary degrees conferred and designated as first, second or third class honours degrees by appropriate awarding authorities. My Department also accepts full membership of certain professional bodies for the purpose of granting certain qualification allowances. The person referred to by the Deputy does not hold a primary honours degree or full membership of a professional accounting body. Therefore she is not entitled to payment of an honours degree allowance.

Schools Building Projects

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

147 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of planning applications for new or extended school buildings lodged to planning authorities where her Department has been informed of such, since the start of September; the number expected to be submitted up to the end of the year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40132/10]

My Department has been made aware of eight planning applications for major school building projects which have been lodged since September 2010. It is expected that approximately fourteen planning applications for major school building projects will be ready to be lodged before the end of the year. This is subject to all prerequisites being in order and no issues arising.

The information above does not take into account projects for smaller works, the management of which, including the submission of planning applications, is devolved to school authorities. In addition, my Department and the OPW are working towards submitting a number of applications by end 2010 as part of contract exchange between the Department and the relevant site vendor. The purpose of these applications is to ensure that the site to be purchased will be deemed suitable for land usage purposes to accommodate the required school. Due to the commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions, I am not in a position to comment further on the matter at this time.

Computerisation Programme

Michael Ring

Question:

148 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be provided to a school (details supplied) in County Mayo to purchase equipment. [40136/10]

As part of the implementation of the Smart Schools = Smart Economy Report and the 2008 ICT Strategy Report, I recently announced ICT grants of over €20m for post primary schools. The school referred to by the Deputy received a grant of €12,232. The grant should be used by the school to work towards equipping each classroom in the school with a teaching computer, with a long range wireless mouse and keyboard, and a fixed digital projector with a particular priority to be placed on equipment for use in the teaching of Project Maths. This latest investment brings the total equipment grant outlay under the ICT in Schools programme to more than €43m within the past twelve months and further grants will issue to primary schools shortly.

Schools Building Projects

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

149 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress regarding an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40141/10]

The school referred to by the Deputy was authorised earlier this year to tender for the appointment of a design team. The Board of Management have finalised their assessment of the tenders and, subject to no issues arising, the appointment process is expected to be completed shortly.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

150 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress regarding an extension at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40170/10]

The school referred to by the Deputy was authorised to tender for the appointment of a design team. The Board of Management is expected to revert to my Department shortly to finalise the appointment process.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

151 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress regarding a new school building for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40171/10]

The school referred to by the Deputy was authorised earlier this year to tender for the appointment of a design team. Representatives from the Board of Management of this school attended a briefing given by my Department to explain the tendering process and the steps involved. The tender process is currently in progress.

Martin Ferris

Question:

152 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application by a school (details supplied) in County Kerry to extend an existing classroom which is urgently needed given the increase in enrolment this year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40177/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has recently applied to my Department for an extension to an existing classroom. The application is currently under consideration in my Department and a decision will issue to the school authority in due course.

Michael Creed

Question:

153 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding allocated to a school (details supplied) in County Cork for the replacement of prefabricated classrooms with permanent structures; if her attention has been drawn to the ongoing effort and expenditure by the school to draw down these funds; if she will confirm that the funds in question remain available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40204/10]

The School in question was approved a Devolved Grant for the provision of a mainstream classroom and a resource room in June 2010. My Department is aware of the difficulties being experienced by the school in relation to planning matters and understands that works are due to commence in early 2011. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the funding allocated for this project will be available in 2011.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

154 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number and job description of persons who have been vetted by the Garda vetting unit for each of the past three years who are at present employed in first and second level education in any capacity full-time, part-time or temporary; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

The arrangements for vetting of teaching and non-teaching staff are set out in Department Circular 0094/2006 which is available on my Department's website. My Department will shortly be issuing a new circular updating the requirements for Garda Vetting as part of the recruitment process for all primary and post-primary schools.

The specific data on vetting requested by the Deputy is not readily available from the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU). Irrespective of the position on vetting by the GCVU, where facts or information comes to a Board of Management's attention calling into question a person's suitability to work with children it is a matter for the Board to satisfy itself that the person is suitable to work in that capacity. This will naturally have to be assessed on a case by case basis. The Board will have to consider all the circumstances of the case, give due weight to all relevant factors, and afford fair procedures to the individual concerned before making a decision.

Departmental Procurement

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

155 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if any printing contracts for her Department were awarded or given to any company from outside the State in each of the past three years, and if so the company appointed and their location; the amount of the contract; if tendering took place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40247/10]

My Department has availed of printing services provided by two companies located outside the state. Paragon Group UK Ltd., located in Tyne and Wear, England, prints pressure seal forms (used for printing payslips, cheques and payable orders) and was paid the following amounts in the years indicated, 2007 — €81,845.34; 2008 — €63,594.97; 2009 — €80,753.03; 2010 (to date) — €63,549.99. Another company, Enterprise Stationery, located in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, prints file covers and was paid the following amounts in the years indicated, 2007 — €3,479.47; 2008 — €7,331.81; 2009 — €3,683.33; 2010 (to date) — €3,476.16. I understand that the use of these companies by my Department arises from a procurement process that was centrally organised by the Office of Public Works.

Aitheantas Scoileanna

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

156 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Tánaiste agus Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an raibh coiste bunaithe i bhfeidhm san Uaimh, Co. na Mí, chun bunscoil a bhunú faoi phátrúnacht an Choiste Gairmoideachais i mbliana; más rud é go raibh, ag cén céim den phróiseas ag lorg aitheantais don scoil a bunaíodh an coiste bunaithe; ar chomhlíon an ceantar na riachtanais dhéimeagrafacha chun scoileanna nua a bhunú; an raibh gá leis an scoil; an ndearna pobal an cheantair iarratas ar scoil nua; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [40284/10]

Faoi mar is eol don Teachta, b'fhéidir, tá athbhreithniú ar siúl ag an gCoimisiún um Chóiríocht Scoile i láthair na huaire ar na nósanna imeachta um bhunú scoileanna nua. Táim ag súil le tuarascáil an Choimisiúin go luath agus nuair a bheidh sé agam breithneoidh mé cúrsaí beartais agus na socruithe riachtanacha mar aon le haon nósanna imeachta leasaithe a bheidh riachtanach. Fad atá an t-athbhreithniú ar siúl níl i gceist aon bhunscoileanna nua a bhunú ach i gcásanna ina bhfuil gá le scoileanna nua de bharr ardú daonra. Ciallaíonn sin nach mbunófar aon bhunscoileanna nua ar aon chúis seachas méadú daonra.

Ní heol don Roinn seo an raibh coiste ar bun san Uaimh chun bunscoil a bhunú faoi phátrúnacht Choiste Gairmoideachais Chontae na Mí. Fós féin, agus bunaithe ar fhaisnéis déimeagrafach, cinneadh scoil nua a oscailt san Uaimh le haghaidh Meán Fómhair 2010. Roimhe sin bhí dhá cheann de bhunscoileanna pobail i mBaile Átha Cliath i dtreoirscéim de shamhail nua na Bunscoile Pobail. Agus leathnú na treoirscéime seo chuig Baile Brigín, an Uaimh agus Nás á fhógairt ag mo réamhtheachtaí, an tAire O'Keeffe, dúirt sé go raibh sé aireach ar an ráiteas beartais a bhí déanta aige chun samhail na Bunscoile Pobail a leathnú sa bhliain 2010. Chun an tsamhail a mheas i suíomhanna difriúla, gheall an tAire go leathnófaí samhail na Bunscoile Pobail chuig suíomhanna nua, mar aidhm bheartais, sa bhliain 2010. Trí líon teoranta bunscoileanna eile a áireamh sa threoirscéim, beidh sé níos fusa fadhbanna praiticiúla a shainaithint agus réitigh nua a thriail. Beidh ar ár gcumas ansin an tsamhail nua pátrúnachta seo a mheas i suíomhanna difriúla sula ndéanfar cinneadh eolasach ar cheart a leathnú tuilleadh sa todhchaí.

Question No. 157 answered with Question No. 131

School Services Staff

Arthur Morgan

Question:

158 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will address the situation whereby in many cases school secretaries and caretakers are not subject to a salary scale, have no pension rights and no sick leave entitlement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40317/10]

In the context of the Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement in 2008, it was agreed that the relevant parties would enter into discussions regarding the terms and conditions of both school secretaries and caretakers. Accordingly, a forum was set up with the aim of establishing the position in schools regarding the terms and conditions of employment of school secretaries and caretakers. The forum is jointly chaired by my Department and the Department of Finance and includes the relevant management bodies and the unions involved (SIPTU and IMPACT).

In order to establish the factual position of secretaries and caretakers, a survey, developed in conjunction with the school management bodies and the relevant unions, was carried out in all schools. The results of the survey will feed into the work of the forum. As the discussions of the forum are currently in progress, it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment at this time.

Schools Building Projects

Willie Penrose

Question:

159 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the steps she is taking to ensure that a new school is provided at a location (details supplied); if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the current arrangement in relation to accommodation is only for a temporary period of three years, and if the opportunity to secure additional lands which is necessary, to provide space for the original is also time limited; when this school is likely to proceed to tender; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40324/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers applied to my Department in 2005 for large scale capital funding for a new school building. The application was assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band rating of 1.3. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. In December 2009, my Department approved grant-aid to facilitate the re-location of the school to its current site. Officials from my Department are in ongoing contact with the school authority regarding their accommodation situation and their proposals regarding the long term accommodation solution for the school.

Departmental Bodies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

160 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of high-level groups operating within her Department; the purpose of each group; the year each group was set up; the number of times each group has met; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40334/10]

The information requested is being collated and will be forwarded to you separately.

School Accommodation

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

161 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount her Department has spent renting prefabricated buildings in the year 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40344/10]

The amount spent on renting temporary accommodation at primary and post-primary level, including — but not limited to — prefabricated accommodation in 2009 was €39m. To date in 2010, the equivalent expenditure is €20.2m.

Business Regulation

Richard Bruton

Question:

162 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her Department was required to take part in the interdepartmental group on administrative burden reduction; if her Department has yet listed information obligations that her Department’s regulations impose on business; if so, the number of information obligations listed; if her Department has yet assessed which requirements are the most burdensome; if her Department has measured the actual cost to business of the most burdensome requirements and if so, the total cost. [40349/10]

My Department participated in the Inter-Departmental Group on Administrative Burden Reduction in 2008. The administrative burden reduction focused on commercial private sector organisations and regulations made by my Department which impact on education related bodies such as schools were not included. My Department conducted a comprehensive analysis of higher education legislation and found no substantial administrative costs are imposed on businesses arising from provisions in that legislation.

Tax Code

Joe McHugh

Question:

163 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if motorhomes will be liable to the 13.3% vehicle registration tax rate after 1 January 2010; the cost of the national car test and VRT for motorhomes that weigh less than 3,000 kg unladen; if motorhome providers will receive concessions in the form of delayed VRT bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39731/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

169 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if motorhomes will be liable to the 13.3% vehicle registration tax rate after 1 January 2010; the cost of the national car test and VRT for motorhomes that weighs less than 3,000 kg unladen; if motorhome providers will receive concessions in the form of delayed VRT bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39730/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 169 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 130 of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended by Section 102 of the Finance Act 2010) provided for the introduction, from 1 January 2011, of a revised classification system for the assessment of vehicle registration tax (VRT), which reflects the categories used for classification of vehicles at European level under various EC Directives. It also brings the definitions of individual vehicles into line with EC definitions and introduces new definitions for certain terms used for vehicle registration tax purposes.

Accordingly, from 1 January 2011, motorhomes (defined as motor caravans in VRT legislation) with an EC vehicle classification of M1 with a bodytype SA will be charged VRT at 13.3% of the open market selling price of the vehicle in the State. The Commissioners confirm that unladen weight will no longer be a determining factor in the calculation of VRT on the registration of motor caravans from 1 January 2011. The Deputy may wish to note that the VRT charged on registration of a vehicle is reduced by the amount of the fee charged by the NCTS to carry out the pre-registration examination and therefore does not result in any additional charge to the customer. Finally, from 1 January 2011, the 13.3% rate of VRT will be payable on the registration of all motorhomes in the State.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

164 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the costs associated with voting and counting arrangements of the 2007 general election campaign; the costs associated with the voting and counting arrangements associated with the 2009 Dublin South by-election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40326/10]

The costs associated with the voting and counting arrangements for the 2007 general election campaign was €14,269,095.99. The costs associated with the voting and counting arrangements associated with the 2009 Dublin South by-election was €212,136.84.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

165 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance, in view of the Financial Regulator’s statement to the Joint Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs on 6 October 2010, that the Government has made its position clear on this matter, that it does not intend to impose losses on senior bondholders, however, this does not rule out the possibility of some negotiations or a liquidity management exercise agreed by consent, if his attention has been drawn to or if he has authorised any such negotiations to take place by any covered financial institution and to provide details of such negotiations, specifying the outcomes and the sums involved. [39644/10]

I wish to reaffirm my Statement of 30 September in relation to the senior debt obligations of Irish financial institutions that these obligations rank equally with deposits and other creditors under Irish law and that I have no plans to change this position. There is no intention to impose losses on holders of senior debt in any credit institution in the State through any legislative measures. I have not authorised, and am not aware of, any covered financial institution in liability management exercise negotiations with senior bondholders.

European Council Meetings

Michael Creed

Question:

166 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the consideration at Council of Finance Ministers regarding the issue of rating agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39646/10]

On June 2nd last, the European Commission published a proposal to amend the existing Regulation governing the activities of Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs). This proposal is currently being examined at Council working group level, as well as within the European Parliament under the co-decision process. The proposal is principally a technical measure to allow the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to assume responsibility for the regulation of CRAs which operate in the EU. ESMA, which is being established as part of the implementation of the recommendations of the de Larosière Report on financial supervision, will become operational at the start of 2011. The proposal amends the existing CRA Regulation (No. 1060/2009) in which national competent authorities (i.e. central banks or financial regulators) were responsible for supervising the activities of CRAs. The national competent authorities will be required to co-operate with ESMA.

The proposal also seeks to put in place a provision whereby national competent authorities would be required to ensure that all regulated financial institutions, which use ratings produced by CRAs, comply with certain requirements when using those ratings.

The proposal also introduces greater transparency on the ratings provided for structured financial products (e.g. asset backed securities). This obligation, which is already in place in some non-EU jurisdictions, will help avoid possible conflicts of interest, for instance, where CRAs are paid by issuers to produce ratings, and will enhance the transparency and quality of ratings. Ireland has supported the basic thrust of the proposals.

The main issue which is emerging is in relation to the treatment of ratings produced in countries outside the EU. Some Member States believe that the regulatory regime for non-EU countries should be equivalent to the European model, whereas others consider that ESMA's endorsement of these regulatory regimes should be sufficient. Ireland is in the latter camp. The Council working group discussions are progressing well and the Belgian Presidency has indicated its desire to achieve agreement on this proposal before the end of the year.

Tax Code

Sean Sherlock

Question:

167 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance the tax or VAT concessions available to a person returning to the workforce as self-employed sole trader after being unemployed for over 12 months following redundancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39667/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, in relation to income tax, there is no specific relief or allowance available to a person returning to the workforce as a self-employed sole trader after being unemployed for over 12 months following redundancy. However, the rules governing the submission of tax returns provide a concession for new business in respect of the first tax year. In general, failure to submit a tax return for a year by 31 October in the following year will result in a surcharge being added to the final tax bill for the year. However, in the case of a new business, the surcharge will not be imposed if the return for the first tax year is made by the return filing date for the following tax year i.e. by 31 October in the second year after the year in which the sole trade started.

The rules governing the payment of preliminary tax can also facilitate start-up business in terms of cash flow. A person has the option of paying preliminary tax on 31 October in the tax year in which trade commences based on either (i) 90 per cent of the liability for the year or (ii) 100 per cent of the liability for the previous year, in order that interest charges will not apply. Where the person opts for the 100 per cent rule, the preliminary tax payment required for the first year can be nil where that person had no taxable income in the year prior to the year in which the trade started. Additionally, where the person wishes to pay preliminary tax in the first year of trade, the person can pay by way of direct debit monthly instalments. This facility is designed to spread the burden of payment throughout the tax year.

In so far as VAT is concerned, there are no concessions for a person who commences business as a sole trader following unemployment — the normal VAT rules apply. Where a person is supplying taxable goods or services and certain turnover thresholds (€37,500 for services and €75,000 for goods) are exceeded, or are likely to be exceeded, in any 12-month period, then, the person is obliged to register and account for VAT at the appropriate rate or rates on his or her supplies of taxable goods and services.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

168 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the income level at which a new 48% income tax rate would have to apply in order to raise €5 billion, €10 billion and €15 billion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39727/10]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the income level at which a third rate of income tax of 48% would have to apply in order to raise €5 billion, €10 billion and €15 billion. The position is that it would not be possible to raise yields in the order of magnitude the Deputy has outlined by introducing a third rate of income tax of 48% without restructuring the current rate band system. Alternatively, if the 41% rate in its current structure was increased to 48% it would yield in the region of €1.3 billion in a full year, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes. A third rate above this income level would raise even less. This figure is an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Question No. 169 answered with Question No. 163.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

170 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the value of the promissory notes issued to date in respect of the capital injection in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39766/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below in respect of each institution.

€m

Issue Date

Interest Rate

Anglo

8,300

31 Mar 2010

4.2%

2,000

28 May 2010

4.6%

8,580

23 Aug 2010

5.1%

18,880

INBS

2,600

31 Mar 2010

4.2%

EBS

250

17 Jun 2010

5.5%

*Will depend on Irish Government 10 year bond yield at time of issue.

The additional capital required by the two institutions referred to in the Deputy's question which I set out in my Statement on Banking on 30 September will be provided by an increase in the value of the Promissory Notes taking into account the burden sharing achieved in relation to holders of subordinated debt in the two institutions.

Michael McGrath

Question:

171 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of the interest liability expected this year and in subsequent years arising from the promissory notes issued in respect of the capital injection in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. [39767/10]

Under the current interest terms, it is estimated that the total interest accruing into 2010 in respect of the Promissory Notes issued to date to Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society and Educational Building Society is around €560 million. The appropriate accounting treatment of these Promissory Notes under General Government accounting rules is currently under active consideration between the Irish authorities and Eurostat. However, under the current terms of the coupons on the Notes it is estimated that the annual accrued interest element will initially be of the order of €1½ to €1 ¾ billion before declining in future years.

The additional capital required by Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society which I set out in my Statement on Banking on 30 September will be provided largely by an increase in the value of the Promissory Notes. It is, however, not possible to determine the future interest liability which this will give rise to as it will depend on the appropriate Irish Government 10 Year Bond Yield at the time of issue as well as the outcome of the Irish authorities discussion with Eurostat on the General Government accounting treatment of the Notes.

The impact of the Promissory Notes on the agreed target to achieve a General Government deficit of below 3% of GDP by the end of 2014, and their accounting treatment will be finalised by the Department of Finance in the context of preparations for the Four-Year Plan for Budgets and Economic Growth. However, in broad terms taking account of the Promissory Notes means that the deficit will be impacted by about 1% of GDP over the forecast period.

Black Economy

Michael McGrath

Question:

172 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his Department’s estimate of the value of the black economy in Ireland in 2010 and the estimate of the annual loss to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39769/10]

My Department does not produce estimates of the size of the informal economy nor of the estimated loss to the exchequer arising from such activities. Internationally, a considerable amount of research has been undertaken in this area but, by definition, it is always difficult to quantify the scale of the informal economy. Having said that, the Central Statistics Office in compiling estimates of national income, and in line with best international practice, makes adjustments to the figures in order to control for informal activity in some sub-sectors of the economy. This is done at a very detailed level, with the result that an overall economy-wide estimate is not available.

National Debt

Michael McGrath

Question:

173 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his current estimate of the amount of interest payable on the national debt for each of the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. [39771/10]

The detailed macro-economic and fiscal projections for the period 2011-2014 are currently being revised by my Department in the context of the publication of the Government's Four-Year Plan. Projections for debt servicing interest costs are not currently available for the period beyond 2014. While the up-to-date forecasts are still being finalised, the debt servicing costs previously set out are informative. Based on the Budget 2010 estimates, a table outlines the debt servicing interest costs for the period to end-2014 as calculated by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) at that time. In respect of the forecast for 2010, on advice from the NTMA, my Department has already signalled publicly that debt interest costs in 2010 will be approximately €350 million lower than was forecast at Budget time.

2010**

2011

2012

2013

2014

Debt Servicing Interest Costs €bn*

*Figures in table based on forecasts contained in Budget 2010.

**Budget 2010 forecast, on the advice of the NTMA the latest estimate for 2010 is €4.1 billion.

Departmental Properties

John O'Mahony

Question:

174 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of premises and sites being rented or leased not currently in use and the cost of maintenance and security on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39802/10]

The Office of Public Works has the following leased buildings with are not currently in use.

Building

Status

Maintenance/Security Yearly Costs

Sligo, Waterfront House Bridge Street

Surrender of Lease will be negotiated with Landlord

€2,640.98 to date in 2010

Dun Laoghaire, 111 Lower Georges Street, Co Dublin

Alternative tenants being sought

€4,174.50

Cahir, The Mill — Church Street, Co Tipperary

Early surrender of Lease being explored with the Landlord

No maintenance costs in 2010

Ballaugh House, 73-79 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2

Allocation being considered by the Department of Justice and Law Reform

€20,656.09

The surrender of a number of other buildings (3) is at an advanced stage and these negotiations are at a commercially sensitive stage.

John O'Mahony

Question:

175 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of premises and sites rented or leased by his Department; the location of same; if they are currently in use and the cost for 2008 and 2009 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39817/10]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) leases 458 properties on behalf of Government Departments/Offices. These properties, which attract a rent exceeding €10K per annum, are currently in use. Table A provides the location details of the properties and Table B schedules the rental costs, by Department/Office, for 2008 and 2009.

Table A

County

Location

Number of Leased Properties at Location

CARLOW

CARLOW

6

CAVAN

BAILIEBOROUGH

1

CAVAN

8

CLARE

CRUSHEEN

1

ENNIS

3

KILRUSH

1

SHANNON

2

CORK

BANDON

2

BANTRY

2

BLARNEY

1

CARRIGALINE

1

CARRIGTWOHILL

1

CASTLETOWNBERE

1

CORK

29

DUNMANWAY

1

FERMOY

2

MACROOM

1

MALLOW

2

SKIBBEREEN

1

YOUGHAL

1

DONEGAL

BALLEYBOFEY

1

BALLYSHANNON

2

BUNCRANA

1

DONEGAL

1

DUNFANAGHY

1

FALCARRAGH

1

KILLYBEGS

1

LETTERKENNY

5

RAMELTON

1

DUBLIN

BALBRIGGAN

2

BLACKROCK

1

CABINTEELY

1

DUBLIN 01

31

DUBLIN 02

68

DUBLIN 03

2

DUBLIN 04

3

DUBLIN 05

2

DUBLIN 06

3

DUBLIN 07

15

DUBLIN 08

9

DUBLIN 09

2

DUBLIN 10

1

DUBLIN 11

7

DUBLIN 12

1

DUBLIN 13

1

DUBLIN 14

3

DUBLIN 15

4

DUBLIN 18

2

DUBLIN 22

4

DUBLIN 24

12

DUBLIN AIRPORT

4

DUN LAOGHAIRE

2

LUCAN

1

MALAHIDE

1

SWORDS

6

GALWAY

BALLINASLOE

1

CLIFDEN

1

GALWAY

18

LETTERMORE

1

LOUGHREA

9

SPIDDAL

1

TUAM

3

KERRY

BLENNERVILLE

1

KENMARE

1

KILLARNEY

4

LISTOWEL

2

TRALEE

5

KILDARE

ATHY

2

BALLYMORE EUSTACE

1

ENFIELD

1

KILDARE

1

NAAS

7

NEWBRIDGE

1

LAOIS

PORTARLINGTON

1

PORTLAOISE

11

LEITRIM

BALLINAMORE

1

CARRICK ON SHANNON

1

LIMERICK

KILMALLOCK

1

LIMERICK

14

NEWCASTLEWEST

1

LOUTH

ARDEE

1

DROGHEDA

4

DUNDALK

3

MAYO

BALLINA

4

CASTLEBAR

4

CLAREMORRIS

2

SWINFORD

1

MEATH

KELLS

1

NAVAN

5

OLDCASTLE

1

TRIM

1

MONAGHAN

BALLYBAY

2

CARRICKMACROSS

1

CASTLEBLAYNEY

1

MONAGHAN

2

OFFALY

TULLAMORE

8

SLIGO

SLIGO

12

TUBBERCURRY

2

TIPPERARY

BORRISOKANE

1

CLONMEL

1

NENAGH

2

ROSCREA

5

TERRYGLASS

1

THURLES

2

TIPPERARY

1

WATERFORD

DUNGARVAN

1

WATERFORD

7

WESTMEATH

ATHLONE

5

MULLINGAR

4

WEXFORD

ENNISCORTHY

1

GOREY

1

ROSSLARE HARBOUR

3

WEXFORD

3

WICKLOW

ARKLOW

1

ASHFORD

1

BALTINGLASS

1

BRAY

1

DUNLAVIN

1

WICKLOW

1

Table B

Department

2008

2009

Agriculture & Food

5,344,949.36

6,372,464.46

Arts, Sports & Tourism

1,073,290.49

1,090,403.10

Attorney General

86,015.97

89,730.79

Central Statistics Office

964,181.31

1,222,105.00

Chief State Solicitor’s Office

609,737.01

746,193.18

Communications, Marine & Natural Resource

3,197,370.88

4,294,413.15

Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs

1,783,187.95

2,006,930.98

Comptroller & Auditor General

590,690.66

738,362.66

Courts Service

1,029,598.72

1,484,974.58

Defence

417,454.79

562,591.91

DPP

1,101,279.16

695,165.42

Education & Science

4,472,297.87

4,790,936.79

Enterprise, Trade & Employment

6,361,653.24

7,769,436.76

Environment, Heritage & Local Government

2,313,522.97

3,044,088.13

Finance

3,210,093.79

2,539,916.88

Foreign Affairs

5,031,826.81

6,720,650.44

Garda

7,138,717.41

7,440,734.35

Health & Children

1,781,942.67

2,042,978.01

HSE

0.00

277,815.00

Irish Prison Service

776,394.21

703,304.15

Justice, Equality & Law Reform

13,828,701.57

18,355,265.89

Land Registry & Registry of Deeds

1,411,026.40

1,504,212.29

National Gallery

17,579.90

58,239.08

Office of Public Works

3,949,189.44

6,360,658.04

Oireachtas

887,278.55

1,215,860.69

Ombudsman

1,095,000.00

1,916,250.00

Public Appointments Service

2,105,056.08

2,454,020.41

Revenue Commissioners

19,629,197.75

22,948,844.49

Social & Family Affairs

12,162,134.25

14,163,741.94

Taoiseach

177,856.29

202,703.55

Transport

5,249,625.29

5,616,869.95

Valuation Office

1,310,000.00

1,637,500.00

Tax Reliefs

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

176 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the total cost paid by the State in grants, tax reliefs, allowances and all other means to facilitate the development of hotels in Ireland from 2004 to date in 2010; the cost on an annualised basis; the cost of taxes forgone in that period due to reliefs granted to facilitate the developments of hotels in Ireland from 2004 and to date in 2010; the cost on an annualised basis, the number of hotels developed here as a result of all grants, allowances, taxes forgone and other means in the period 2004 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39827/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the cost to the Exchequer of the property related tax relief for the development of hotels is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2004 to 2008, the latest year for which this information is available. These are set out in the following table. The figures are composite costs for both commercial and residential property reliefs.

Cost to the Exchequer of Hotels

Scheme

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Hotels

37.7

67.0

106.6

118.0

114.7

I should also point out that the provisions of section 23 Finance Act 2010 severely curtails the amount of tax reliefs that can be used to reduce the income tax liability of those on high incomes. These provisions ensure that, in addition to the income levy, those with high incomes and using reliefs will have an effective income tax rate of about 30%. This measure applies to a list of specified reliefs, including most of the area and sectoral based property incentive schemes, the use of all of which has been curtailed as a result of this change.

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11). The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate for 2008 in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax. The figures for 2008 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

Projections for income tax receipts are based on assumed movements in macro-economic parameters and not by reference to the costs of individual tax reliefs. Accordingly, I am not in a position to provide the projected cost data requested by the Deputy for the year 2010 in relation to the above-mentioned reliefs.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

177 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the total cost to the Exchequer in grants, tax reliefs or other payments given, and taxes forgone, of the provision of student accommodation from 2004 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39829/10]

As Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the scheme of capital allowances introduced to support the construction of student accomodation. My Department is not involved in the payment of grants for the provision of student accommodation. Section 50 Finance Act 1999 introduced a scheme of tax relief for rented residential accommodation for third level students. The relief provided for a deduction of 100% of the construction, conversion or refurbishment expenditure, which could be off-set against all Irish rental income — whether derived from the premises in question or from other lettings. The purpose of the relief was to increase the supply of quality accommodation for third level students and the scheme was very successful in that respect. The scheme was abolished by Finance Act 2006 with a final termination date of 31 July 2008 for qualifying capital expenditure.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the cost to the Exchequer of the property based tax relief for the provision of student accommodation is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2004 to 2008, the latest year for which this information is available. These are set out in the following table.

Cost of tax relief for provision of Student Accommodation

Scheme

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Student Accommodation

83.8

58.0

64.3

42.0

22.7

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11). The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate for 2008 in the case of individuals and 12.5% in the case of companies. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax.

The figures for 2008 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended. Since tax returns from non-PAYE taxpayers for the tax year 2009 are only now being required to be made, data is not available on which to provide costings for that year or for 2010.

I should also point out that the provisions of section 23 Finance Act 2010 severely curtails the amount of tax reliefs that can be used to reduce the income tax liability of those on high incomes. These provisions ensure that, in addition to the income levy, those with high incomes and using reliefs will have an effective income tax rate of about 30%. This measure applies to a list of specified reliefs, including most of the area and sectoral based property incentive schemes, the use of all of which has been curtailed as a result of this change.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

178 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the total cost to the State of the development of private hospitals, including all tax reliefs, allowances, taxes forgone and all other such costs, since 2004 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39830/10]

As Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the scheme of capital allowances introduced to encourage the construction or refurbishment of buildings used as private hospitals. This scheme was introduced in Finance Act 2001 and came into effect in May 2002. Capital allowances are available in respect of capital expenditure incurred on the construction or refurbishment of a building coming within the definition of a qualifying hospital set out in section 268 (2A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

As announced in the Supplementary Budget in April 2009 and reflected in section 8 Finance Act 2009, the scheme of capital allowances for private hospitals was terminated on 31 December 2009 along with certain other health-related capital allowances schemes, subject to transitional arrangements for pipeline projects.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the cost to the Exchequer of the tax relief for the development of private hospitals is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers for the years 2004 to 2008, the latest year for which this information is available. These are set out in the following table.

Cost of tax relief for the provision of private hospitals

Scheme

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Qualifying (Private) Hospitals

1.9

3.2

10.6

12.0

12.3

It should be noted that any corresponding data returned by PAYE taxpayers in the income tax return (Form 12) is not captured in the Revenue computer system. However, any PAYE taxpayer with non-PAYE income greater than €3,174 is required to complete an income tax return (Form 11). The estimated relief claimed has assumed tax forgone at the 41% rate for 2008 in the case of individuals. The figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax.

The figures for 2008 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended. Since tax returns from non-PAYE taxpayers for the tax year 2009 are only now being required to be made, data is not available on which to provide costings for that year or for 2010.

I should also point out that the provisions of section 23 Finance Act 2010 severely curtails the amount of tax reliefs that can be used to reduce the income tax liability of those on high incomes. These provisions ensure that, in addition to the income levy, those with high incomes and using reliefs will have an effective income tax rate of about 30%. This measure applies to a list of specified reliefs, including most of the area and sectoral based property incentive schemes, the use of all of which has been curtailed as a result of this change.

National Asset Management Agency

Joan Burton

Question:

179 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the publication of the quarterly accounts for the National Asset Management Agency for the second quarter of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39833/10]

Section 55 of the NAMA Act, 2009 requires NAMA to make a quarterly report to the Minister for Finance within 3 months of the end of the quarter to which the report refers. The first quarterly report for the period ending 31 March 2010, accompanied by quarterly financial statements, was submitted to me within this required timeframe and I laid them before each House of the Oireachtas, as required by the Act. The second quarterly report for the period ending 30 June 2010, accompanied by financial statements for the second quarter, was submitted to me as required by the end of September 2010 and I expect to lay the report before each House of the Oireachtas shortly.

Tax Clearance Certificates

Jack Wall

Question:

180 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can be furnished with a P21 for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39864/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement P21 for the year 2009 will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Public Procurement

Leo Varadkar

Question:

181 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify the savings that have been achieved by the national public procurement operations unit since its establishment; the costs it has incurred in doing its work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39872/10]

Since its establishment in April 2009 the National Procurement Service ( formerly known as the National Procurement Operations Unit ) has achieved, in association with Government Departments, Offices and Agencies , savings in the region of €35 million. The total costs incurred by the National Procurement Service during that time were €1,528,000 or 4.37% of the savings achieved.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

182 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if the national public procurement operations unit works on behalf of State agencies, other public bodies and local authorities or just Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39873/10]

The National Procurement Service, (formerly known as the National Public Procurement Operations Unit) was established in April 2009 on foot of a Government Decision assigning responsibility for procurement to the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works. The National Procurement Service (NPS) strategically works on behalf of and with all Government Departments and their agencies (with the exception of commercial semi-state agencies) the Health Service Executive, Local Authorities, Vocational Education Committees and the Higher Education Authority.

The remit of the NPS covers such areas as putting in place centralised framework contracts for common goods and services across the public sector, significant input into the areas of procurement up-skilling and learning as well as responsibility for the efficient operation of the e-Tenders website. Whilst all of the above is significant I should point out that the NPS has limited resources and substantial procurement activity remains the responsibility of those public sector organisations.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Question:

183 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance with regard to the framework for mobile voice and data services, which of the three services has been suspended and the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39874/10]

On foot of an open EU procurement exercise, my Department put in place a framework for the provision of mobile voice and data services to the entire Irish public service in February 2008. Framework agreements were awarded to three providers — Vodafone, O2, and Meteor. In September 2008, my Department met with Meteor to express its dissatisfaction with Meteor's performance under the framework in terms of the services it was offering and the price levels it was demanding. My Department was concerned that Meteor was not responding to the bulk of procurement competitions operated under the framework, and had not been successful in any, arising from its policies.

As Meteor was not in a position to rectify these matters or give an indication of how or when it could do so, the Government Networks Programme Board, which is chaired by my Department, agreed to the suspension of Meteor indefinitely from the framework in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the Vendor Particpation Agreement governing the framework. Meteor was notified of this decision in October 2008, and was informed that my Department would be willing to review the suspension on notification from Meteor of changes that would rectify the causes for suspension. Meteor has not responded to that opportunity to date.

Tax Yield

Leo Varadkar

Question:

184 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the stamp duty yield from the sale of properties in 2009 and the estimated yield for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39875/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the net receipt of Stamp Duty from conveyances and transfers of residential and non-residential property in 2009 was €329 million. The estimate for the corresponding yield in 2010 is approximately €200 million.

Departmental Expenditure

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

185 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the savings that have been made in his Department through the use of open source software packages and generic consumables; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39922/10]

My Department, in accordance with Government policy has a procurement policy for the acquisition of all ICT products and services. A procurement exercise must be undertaken based on functional requirements for all software, i.e. not a specific technology brand. The evaluation of such a procurement exercise is conducted on as close to a total cost of ownership (TCO) model as possible and at a minimum includes the following costs: licensing; arising hardware upgrades/ renewals/replacements; IT and user training; support and maintenance; planning, testing and migration; external expertise; and exit costs. My Department has not incurred any expenditure on desktop operating system or productivity software (wordprocessing, spreadsheets, presentation software, email client, etc...) in the last 6 years.

My Department runs a competitive tender exercise each year advertised on the eTenders website for the supply of printer consumables so as to achieve the best value for money. This tender is evaluated with a high emphasis on the cost of supplying the manufacturer's brand of toner as this is the only way of achieving a like with like comparison between the offerings of each vendor. The National Procurement Service is currently establishing a printer consumable framework for the Public Service which is expected to be completed early in 2011, and it is my Department's intention to use this framework for future procurement. The evaluation criteria to be used on the framework will be based on the cost of the manufacturer's brand.

The principal reason for not using generic consumables is the potential for voiding the manufacturer's warranty. Many studies have been carried out on the use of generic consumables and reasons for not using them include:

Generic toners often cannot produce the same quality as genuine toners. Some generic cartridges that have been designed poorly can lead to toner leaks and printer malfunctions; often these faults brought in by inferior parts will also void the manufacturer's warranty.

Generic toners can cost more in the long run. One in four remanufactured or refilled cartridges are dead on arrival or fail prematurely and that almost 30% of pages printed from remanufactured toner cartridges were of limited or no use due to poor print quality, which lead to reprints.

Increased paper usage and paper costs can erode any cost benefit of cheaper toner. Generic toners are also more likely to cause problems with the printer when they cannot effectively emulate patented printer technology resulting in increased printer downtime and repair costs.

Printer blockages, unusable messy printouts and increased print tests are common side affects from generic toners. These are problems that are much less likely to occur using the original manufacturer's toners.

Tax Code

Jack Wall

Question:

186 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a request for a P21 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39938/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement P21 for the year 2009 will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Property Valuations

Brian O'Shea

Question:

187 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance when the revision of valuation of all rateable properties throughout the country, as provided for under the Valuations Act 2001 will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40083/10]

The Valuation Act 2001 which came into effect on 2nd May, 2002, provides for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial property. As you will appreciate, the Commissioner of Valuation has sole responsibility for all valuation matters which includes the implementation of the revaluation programme on a nationwide basis as provided for in the Valuation Act 2001.

The revaluation programme began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. The revaluation of South Dublin was completed in December 2007, Fingal was completed last year and Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown will be completed this year (2010). In the coming months the programme will be rolled out to further local authorities. The necessary process of consultation, as provided for under the Act, is underway in Dublin City and in the local authorities of Waterford, i.e. Waterford City and County Council and Dungarvan Town Council. Preliminary work is also underway on the revaluation of Limerick City.

The purpose of revaluation is to bring more equity, fairness and transparency into the local authority rating system and following completion of the initial national revaluation programme, I am satisfied that there will be a much closer and uniform relationship between rental values of property and their commercial rates liability and that this relationship will thereafter be maintained by means of the recurring revaluations provided for in the Act.

The Commissioner is confident that the national revaluation programme can be delivered in a ten-year period, which accords with relevant provisions of the Act, but is actively reviewing options which might hold potential for delivery within a shorter timeframe.

Budget Submissions

Brian O'Shea

Question:

188 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to the Irish Farmers’ Association taxation priorities for budget 2011 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40093/10]

The Deputy will be aware that in the lead up to the annual Budget and Finance Bill it is normal to meet when possible with representatives of the various sectors of the economy. My schedule of meetings includes meeting with the Irish Farmers Association on Tuesday 2 November 2010. The proposals submitted by the IFA like all proposals will fall to be considered in the context of the ongoing development of budgetary and economic policy. It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment at this time.

Tax Collection

Seymour Crawford

Question:

189 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will receive their VAT refund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40115/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a claim for a refund of VAT was received from the person concerned on 16th March 2009. A claimant for such a refund is required to be up to date as regards tax returns to be filed with and tax payments to be made to Revenue. Income Tax returns for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 were overdue at that stage. The person concerned was advised that their claim could not be processed until those returns were received and accordingly the completed claim form was returned to him. The 2004 return is still outstanding. The person concerned has been in contact with Revenue on a number of occasions about this matter and is fully aware of the position. Revenue has informed me that when the 2004 return is received they will be in a position to process the VAT refund claim upon resubmission.

Departmental Agencies

Enda Kenny

Question:

190 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the amount of dividends received by the Exchequer from all State or semi-State agencies for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40134/10]

The amount of dividends received by the Exchequer from companies or bodies, in which the State had an ownership interest, is set out in the table below. This information is extracted from the annual audited Finance Accounts, which are laid before Dail Eireann and published on the Department's website.

Year

Total Dividends

€000

2000

18,840

2001

52,038

2002

44,390

2003

36,857

2004

80,905

2005

83,912

2006

82,052

2007

84,106

2008

170,908

2009

145,750

Enda Kenny

Question:

191 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the total amount of Exchequer funds granted to all State or semi-State agencies for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40135/10]

The amount of Exchequer funds granted to non-commercial semi-State bodies and agencies is listed in the Revised Estimates for Public Services (REV) each year under the section entitled “Detailed Expenditure Information On Non-Commercial Semi-State Bodies and Agencies”. The table below lists the total amounts paid in each of the last ten years.

Year

€ m

2000

2,237

2001

2,744

2002

3,606

2003

3,606

2004

3,696

2005

4,045

2006

4,717

2007

5,874

2008

5,912

2009

5,658

2010

5,177

In general Exchequer funds are not issued to commercial State or semi-State bodies, however, I will write to the Deputy separately with details of all payments made to commercial bodies and agencies over the past ten years.

David Stanton

Question:

192 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance his plans, if any, to relocate the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; his further plans, if any, for the use of the building currently occupied by the Director of Public Prosecutions; the timescale for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40156/10]

It is proposed to move elements of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to the former Department of Defence building on Infirmary Road, Dublin 7, which is adjacent to the new Criminal Courts Complex. The Department of Defence and elements of the Defence Forces are in the process of moving from Infirmary Road to the new Department of Defence Headquarters in Newbridge, County Kildare. The proposed move of elements of the DPP is part of the ongoing rationalisation of the State's property portfolio, designed to generate much needed savings for the Exchequer.

Decentralisation Programme

David Stanton

Question:

193 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the cost of the new location in Newbridge for Army headquarters and Department of Defence staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40158/10]

The cost of the new decentralised headquarters for the Department of Defence and the Army at Newbridge, Co. Kildare, is €30,394,840.00 including VAT and site acquisition costs. The fitting out of the canteen and the supply and installation of furniture will follow under separate contracts. The provision of equipment such as IT, telephones, staff training and moving expenses, e.g. transfers of files will be a matter for the Department of Defence.

Consultancy Contracts

Brian Hayes

Question:

194 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he can assure that economic experts commissioned by the Government to advise on cuts to public expenditure measures do not also advise private sector interests in how to deal with or mitigate their impact; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40173/10]

My Department has recently retained the services of staff with economic expertise to advise on economic policy issues. Under the terms of their employment, they are subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1963 as amended by the Freedom of Information Acts, 1997 and 2003. In addition, they are required not to disclose to third parties any confidential information especially that with commercial potential either during or subsequent to the period of employment or engage in other work which would result in a conflict of interest.

State Savings Initiatives

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

195 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40174/10]

I note the helpful suggestion in the correspondence forwarded to me by the Deputy. I think it is worth pointing out that the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) offers a comprehensive suite of State Savings products, details of which are available on the NTMA's website www.StateSavings.ie or by calling 1850 30 50 60.

The full range of State Savings products, which are available at post offices, includes the recently-introduced National Solidarity Bond as well as Savings Certificates, Savings Bonds, Prize Bonds, Instalment Savings and Post Office Savings Bank Deposit Accounts. These products help to fund the Exchequer and form part of the National Debt.

Instalment Savings are designed to accept regular contributions from savers along the lines suggested by the Deputy's correspondent. In addition, it is possible to save money for investment in the National Solidarity Bond by monthly salary deduction where an employer is prepared to facilitate this.

State Property

David Stanton

Question:

196 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the detailed plans that the Office of Public Works has for Park Gate House, the current location of the Department of Defence; the timescale for any such plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40181/10]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) holds two leases on Park House, which are due to expire in 2013. The future of this property will be considered in the context of the overall rationalisation of office accommodation in Dublin.

Offshore Betting

Brian O'Shea

Question:

197 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance his plans in regard to providing a regulated environment (details supplied) so that it can be effectively taxed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40197/10]

I have stated previously that it is my intention to widen, if possible, the tax base on which betting duty would be applied. Bets placed either online or over the phone are generally with out-of-State companies so applying betting duty is therefore problematic. My officials, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Justice and Law Reform, are looking at the scope to overcome legal and operational difficulties in this area including extending an appropriate regulatory and tax regime to betting exchanges. Any extension of betting duty will be applied on a fair basis and should not be perceived as an attempt to threaten jobs. Also, tax changes will be in tandem with ongoing work by the Department of Justice and Law Reform on issues surrounding licensing and regulation.

Tax Code

Brian Hayes

Question:

198 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance, following proposals from the Dutch and Swedish authorities to amend their excise structure to the higher specific rates, 70% and 76.5%, respectively, of tax on tobacco products which is possible through the EU excise directive effective from 1 January 2011, his plans to follow and if so, the changes envisaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40198/10]

In accordance with the relevant EU Directive the overall excise duty on cigarettes is made up of a specific (fixed) element and an ad valorem element. Ireland already applies a high specific duty element and a low ad valorem element in setting its excise duty for cigarettes relative to other Member States. It is intended to continue that approach in setting our excise duty for cigarettes. It has also to be recognised that Ireland has the highest prices and excise duty levels for cigarettes in the EU. For example the level of excise duty on cigarettes in Ireland (€5.22 for a packet of 20) is double that in Sweden, and slightly less than double that in The Netherlands.

Leo Varadkar

Question:

199 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he plans to introduce a separate rate of tax on individual incomes over €100,000 and married couple incomes over €200,000, the level such a tax would need to be to raise €1 billion, €2 billion and €4 billion in a full year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40199/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, of a 1% point increase in the top rate of income tax for those single individuals with incomes over €100,000 and married couples with incomes over €200,000 as referred to by the Deputy would be of the order of €57 million. Consequently, the top rate of income tax would need to increase to 59%, 76% and 111% to yield in the region of €1 billion, €2 billion and €4 billion in a full year respectively. These estimates are based on confining the increased tax rate to the segment of income that is in excess of the stated thresholds of €100,000 and €200,000. These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised. It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

National Lottery Funding

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

200 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the headings under which the national lottery funds are distributed at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40205/10]

Section 5 of the National Lottery Act 1986 provides that the surplus from the National Lottery may be used for the following purposes: sport and other recreation; national culture, including the Irish Language; the arts, within the meaning of the Arts Act 1951; the health of the community; and for such other purposes as the Government may determine. The following additional categories have been so determined: youth, welfare, national heritage and amenities.

Tax Yield

Charles Flanagan

Question:

201 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue raised in stamp duty each year since the year 2000 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40209/10]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

202 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue raised in capital acquisitions tax since the year 2000 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40210/10]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

203 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue raised in capital gains tax since the year 2000 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40211/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 to 203, inclusive, together.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the accompanying table. The yield from these three tax-heads increased steadily during the first half of the decade, to peak at a combined amount of just under €7.2 billion in 2006. However, this figure had fallen to just €1.7 billion in 2009, a decline of over 75 per cent. Between their peak in 2007 and 2009, total tax revenues fell by approximately 30 per cent. Consequently, a significant gap has emerged between revenues and expenditures. The Government has already taken very significant action to tackle this shortfall but further efforts will be required and the Four-Year Plan for Budgets and Economic Growth, which will be published later this month, will set out the measures necessary for us to reach our target of a General Government deficit of 3 per cent of GDP by end-2014.

Tax Revenue

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

End-Sept 2010

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

€ m

Capital Gains Tax

773

880

627

1,443

1,516

1,960

3,100

3,105

1,430

542

127

Capital Acquisitions Tax

222

169

151

214

190

249

353

392

332

254

164

Stamp Duties

1,107

1,227

1,167

1,688

2,088

2,725

3,717

3,186

1,651

930

708

Tax Code

Richard Bruton

Question:

204 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance following the passing of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, when he will bring forward relevant legislative changes in the area of taxation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40228/10]

It is my intention that all necessary legislative changes in the area of taxation arising from the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act will be provided for in the next Finance Bill.

Cash for Gold Schemes

Catherine Byrne

Question:

205 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if the cash for gold industry is supervised and regulated by the Financial Regulator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40234/10]

The practice to which the Deputy refers is not supervised or regulated by the Central Bank. For information, the Deputy may wish to note that the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority ceased to exist with the commencement of the Central Bank Reform Act 2010 on 1 October 2010 and its regulatory functions were subsumed into the Central Bank of Ireland.

Departmental Procurement

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

206 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if any printing contracts for his Department were awarded or given to any company from outside the State in each of the past three years, and if so the company appointed and their location; the amount of the contract; if tendering took place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40250/10]

My Department has not awarded or given any printing contracts to any company from outside the State in the past three years.

Tax Collection

Michael McGrath

Question:

207 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork for a refund of deposit interest retention tax. [40270/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the refund of Deposit Interest Retention Tax in this case was held pending submission of outstanding income tax returns. According to Revenue records a reminder letter issued to the customer on 14th. October 2009 advising that the refund could not be issued until outstanding Income Tax Returns (Forms 11) for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 were submitted. To date there has been no response to that letter. Any further queries may be directed to Pearse Penney, Revenue Commissioners, Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork. Telephone: 021-6027266.

Departmental Properties

Deirdre Clune

Question:

208 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Finance if he will list the buildings and structures owned or leased by his Department in Cork city and county for use by his or other Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40271/10]

The Office of Public Works states that the following lists schedule the buildings and structures, owned (142) or leased (22) in Cork city and county. The leases scheduled are all of an annual rental value of €10,000 and above.

Cork Owned (Note: Title of Schools in List under current review)

Building Name

Address

Building Usage

Adrigole GS + MQ

Glengariff Road

Garda Station

Anglesea Street GS

Anglesea Street

Garda Station

Ballincollig GS+Sewer/Plant-GS

Former Military Barracks

Garda Station

Ballincollig GS+Sewer/Plant-Sewr

Former Military Barracks

Sewerage Plant

Ballineen GS

Main Street

Garda Station

Ballingeary GS

Ballingeary

Garda Station

Ballinhassig GS

Bandon — Cork Road

Garda Station

Ballinspittle GS + MQ

Ballinspittle

Garda Station

Ballycotton MES

Ballycotton

Marine Emergency Service

Ballydaniel NS

Ballyclough — Doneraile Road

School — National

Ballydehob GS + MQ + RAX — GS/MQ

Ballydehob

Garda Station

Ballydesmond GS

Boherboy Road

Garda Station

Ballyfeard GS + MQ

Carrigaline Road

Garda Station

Ballygurteen GS + MQ

Dunmanway — Clonakilty Road

Garda Station

Ballyhass NS

Mallow — Kanturk Road

School — National

Ballynoe GS + MQ + RAX — GS/MQ

Ballynoe

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Ballyvourney GS + MQ

Killarney — Macroom Road

Garda Station

Baltimore GS + MQ

Skibbereen Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Baltimore MES

Baltimore

Marine Emergency Service

Bandon GS

Weir Street

Garda Residence

Bantry GS

The Quay

Garda Station

Barrack Street GS + MQ(4)

Fort Elizabeth

Garda Station

Barry’s Cove MES

Barry’s Cove

Marine Emergency Service

Baurleigh NS

Kilbritten

School — National

Bishopstown GS

Wilton Avenue

Garda Station

Blackrock GS — Cork

Ringmahon Road

Garda Station

Blarney Garda Residence

13 Woodville

Garda Residence

Boherbue GS + MQ

Mallow Road

Garda Station

Bridewell (Cork) GS + MQ

Cornmarket Street-Kyrl’s Street

Garda Station

Buttevant GS+Res+RAX GS

Off Richmond Street

Garda Station

Buttevant GS+Res+RAX Res

Off Richmond Street

Garda Residence

Cape Clear NS

Keenleen

School — National

Carrigaline GS + MQ + RAX

Carrigaline

Garda Station

Carrignavar GS

Mallow Road

Garda Station

Carrigtwohill GS

Carrigtwohill

Garda Station

Castlefreke MES

Rosscarbery — Clonakilty Road

Marine Emergency Service

Castletownbere GS

Glengarriff Road

Garda Station

Castletownroche GS

Mallow Road

Garda Station

Castletownshend GS+MQ+RAX GS/MQ

Main Street

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Castletownshend NS

Skibbereen Road

School — National

Charleville GS +RAX

Chapel Street

Garda Station

Cloghduv NS

Crookstown — Cork Road

School — National

Clonakilty Agricultural College

Darrara

School — Agricultural

Clonakilty D/CMNR & BIM

Clonakilty Enterprise Park

Office — Agriculture & BIM

Clonakilty GS + MQ + RAX — GS/MQ

Barrack Street

Garda Station

Cloyne GS + MQ + RAX

Cloyne

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Coachford GS + MQ

Cork — Macroom Road

Garda Station

Cobh Custom House

Lynch’s Quay

Custom Post

Cobh GS

Cobh Railway Station

Garda Station

Cork Agric Campus Blood Test Lab

Model Farm Road

Laboratory

Cork Agric Campus Dairy Sci Lab

Model Farm Road

Laboratory

Cork Agric Campus Reg Vet Lab

Model Farm Road

Laboratory

Cork Airport Marine

Cork Airport

Marine Emergency Service

Cork Asylum Centre

Kinsale Road

Asylum Seekers Accom

Cork Bessboro Rd Creche

Mahon Industrial Estate

Creche

Cork C&E Parnell Place

15 Parnell Place

Office — Custom & Excise

Cork C&E Watercourse Road

Watercourse Road

Office — Custom & Excise

Cork Custom House

Customs House Quay

Custom Post

Cork Elizabeth Fort

Barrack Street

Heritage Property

Cork Gov Off

Skehard Road Mahon

Office — Central Statistics Office

Cork Gov Off Sullivans Quay

10-19 Sullivans Quay -Drinan Str

Office — Central Statistics Office

Cork Mallow Road GS

Mallow Road

Garda Station

Cork OPW Office

14 Old Blackrock Road

Office — OPW

Cork Revenue House

Assumption Road

Office — Revenue

Cork SWO — Hanover Street

Hanover Street

Office — Social Welfare

Cork Watercourse Road GS

53 Watercourse Road

Garda Station

Crookstown GS + MQ

Macroom Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Crosshaven GS Nos 1 and 2

Crosshaven — Myrtleville Road

Garda Station

Crosshaven MES

Crosshaven — Myrtleville Road

Marine Emergency Service

Darara NS

Clonakilty

School — National

Doneraile GS

Main Street

Garda Station

Doneraile House/Court

Doneraile

Heritage Property

Donoughmore GS + RAX

Stuake

Garda Station

Douglas GS

Maryborough Hill

Garda Station

Dromagh NS

Mallow Road

School — National

Dunmanway GS

Main Street

Garda Station

Dunmanway Model School

Skibbereen Road

School — Model

Durrus GS + MQ + RAXMob GS/MQ

Kilcrohane Road

Garda Station

Fermoy GS

O’Neill Crowley Quay

Garda Station

Fermoy Military Barracks

Fermoy

Military Property

Garnish Island Pav & Clock Tower

Glengarriff

Heritage Property

Glantane GS + MQ

Banteer — Mallow Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Glengarriff Flahives Lodge

Glengarriff

Lodge

Glengarriff GS + MQ + RAX

Bantry Road

Garda Station

Glenville GS + MQ

Cork — Mallow Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Goleen GS + MQ

Crookhaven Road

Garda Station

Goleen MES

Goleen Mizen Head Road

Marine Emergency Service

Gurranabraher GS

Gurranabraher

Garda Station

Gyleen MES

Gyleen

Marine Emergency Service

Hare Island NS

Co Cork

School — National

Inchigeela GS + RAX — GS

Macroom Road

Garda Station

Innishannon GS + MQ + RAX — GS/MQ

Main Street

Garda Station

Kanturk GS + RAX — GS

Percival Street

Garda Station

Kealkill GS + MQ + RAX Mob GS/MQ

Bantry — Macroom Road

Garda Station

Kilbrittain GS

Bandon — Kinsale Road

Garda Station

Kilbrittain NS

Bandon Road

School — National

Kilcoe NS

Roaring Water Road

School — National

Kildorrery GS

Mallow Road

Garda Station

Killeagh GS

Main Street

Garda Station

Kilworth GS + MQ

Clanworth Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Kinsale Charles Fort + MES

Summer Cove

Marine Emergency Service

Kinsale GS

Church Street

Garda Station

Knockaclarig NS

Co Cork

School — National

Knocknagree GS + MQ

Knocknagree

Garda Station

Kyle NS

Killeagh

School — National

Liscarroll GS + MQ + RAX

Main Street

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Long Island NS

Co Cork

School — National

MacCurtain Street GS

MacCurtain Street

Garda Station

Macroom GS

Barrack Lane

Garda Station

Mallow GS

The Bowling Green

Garda Station

Mallow NS

Shortcastle Street

School — National

Mallow Storage

Glenmount

Storage

Mayfield GS

Silver Spring Lane

Garda Station

Meelin GS

Newmarket Road

Garda Station

Midleton GS

Oliver Plunkett Place

Garda Station

Milford GS + MQ

Milford

Garda Station

Millstreet GS

Main Street

Garda Station

Mitchelstown GS

Upper Cork Street

Garda Station

Newmarket GS + MQ

Church Street

Garda Station

Oysterhaven MES

Oysterhaven

Marine Emergency Service

Rathcormac GS + MQ

Cannon Street

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Rathduane NS

Rathduane

School — National

Rathduff GS + MQ + RAX

Mallow — Cork Road

Garda Station

Rathduff NS

Rathduff

School — National

Roches Point Met Station

Whitegate Road

Meteorlogical Station

Roscarberry GS + RAX — GS

Church Street

Garda Station

Schull Garda Area HQ

Schull

Garda Station

Seven Heads MES

Seven Heads

Marine Emergency Service

Sherkin Island NS

Sherkin Island

School — National

Skibbereen GS

High Street

Garda Station

Tarleton GS + MQ + RAX

Crookstown — Dunmanway Road

Garda Station

Timoleague GS + MQ + RAX — GS/MQ

Mill Street

Garda Station

Timoleague NS

Timoleague

School — National

Toe Head MES

Toe Head

Marine Emergency Service

Togher GS

Caseys Cross

Garda Station

Trafask NS

Trafask

School — National

Watergrasshill GS + MQ

Cork — Fermoy Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Whitegate GS + MQ + RAX

Lower Road

Garda Station & Married Quarters

Youghal GS

O’Brien Place

Garda Station

Youghal MES

O’Briens Place

Marine Emergency Service

Youghal SWO — O’Briens Place

O’Briens Place

Office — Social Welfare

Cork Leased

Building Name

Address

Occupant

Bandon School Inspectors Office

The Weir Centre

Education

Bandon SWO

Weir Street

Social Protection

Bantry Customs and Excise

Old Convent House

Revenue

Bantry SWO — 7 Main Street

7 Main Street

Social Protection

Blarney Garda Station

The Square

Garda Siochana

Carrigaline DSFA Office

Units 2 & 4

Social Protection

Carrigtwohill Garda Station

Cork Road

Garda Siochana

Castletownbere SWO

Church Gate

Social Protection

Cork C&E Centre Park House

Centre Park House

Revenue

Revenue

NERA

Revenue

Cork C&E Centre Park House Car Parking

Centre Park House

NERA

Cork C&E Centrepoint Store

Unit 4 Centrepoint

Revenue

Cork Crawford Hall Car Parking

Crawford Hall

Social Protection

Cork DAF Cityhall Car Parking

Eglington Street

Agriculture

Cork Education Office

Block C Heritage Business Park

Education

National Council for Special Education

National Education Welfare Board

Cork Environment Office

Unit 7, Eastgate Avenue

Environment

Cork Gov Office Connolly Hall

Connolly Hall

Social Protection

Agriculture

Social Protection

Cork Gov Office Doughcloyne — Warehouse

Doughcloyne Industrial Estate

Transport

Cork Gov Office Hibernian House

Hibernian House

Agriculture

Social Protection

Social Protection

Cork Gov Office Irish Life Bldg

Irish Life House

Foreign Affairs

Revenue

Passport Office

Foreign Affairs

Education

Agriculture

Office of Public Works

Prisons Service

Foreign Affairs

Cork HIQA Decentral Office

Unit 1301, City Gate, Mahon

HIQA

Cork Marine Office

Riverview Business Park

Marine

Comm Marine & Natural Resources

Cork Marine Office/Warehouse

Acorn Business Campus

Comm Marine & Natural Resources

Cork Prob & Wel Serv Cove St

St Nicholas Church

Probation & Welfare Service

Cork Probation & Welfare Service Cove St Car Parking

St Nicholas Church

Probation & Welfare Service

Cork Revenue Store Boland Industrial Estate

7-8 Boland Industrial Estate

Revenue

Cork SWO — ESB Premises

Marina

Social Protection

Dunmanway SWO Office

Main Street

Social Protection

Fermoy OPW Storage

Unit 1 Block A, Fermoy Ent. Park

Office of Public Works

Fermoy SWO — Connolly Street

Connolly Street

Social Protection

Macroom SWO (New)

Bowl Road

Social Protection

Mallow SWO

72 Main Street

Social Protection

Mallow SWO (New)

Fair Green

Social Protection

Skibbereen Forestry Office

Townsend Street

Agriculture

Youghal SWO — Main Street

14 Main Street

Social Protection

Departmental Committees

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

209 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of times the committee for public management research has met in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the allocated funding and expenditure by the committee in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40328/10]

The Committee for Public Management Research was wound up at the end of 2007, following a review. The table below sets out the details of meetings, allocated funding and expenditure during the years 2005-2008.

2005

2006

2007

2008

No. of meetings

5

4

2

0

Allocated funding

€406,400

€406,400

€406,400

0

Expenditure

€399,210

€409,920

€380,520

€190,396

Funding was retained in the CPMR account to facilitate the completion of its work programme in 2008.

Departmental Bodies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

210 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of high level groups operating within his Department; the purpose of each group; the year each group was set up; the number of times each group has met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40336/10]

The Deputy has clarified that the information sought is in respect of high level groups appointed by myself to examine a specific issue and involve stakeholders outside the Department such as interest groups. The table below sets out the detail requested in respect of such groups.

Entity

Purpose

Date formed and number of times the group has met

Credit Union Advisory Committee

The Credit Union Advisory Committee is a statutory advisory committee whose function is to advise the Minister for Finance in relation to— (a) the improvement of the management of credit unions; (b) the protection of the interests of members and creditors of credit unions; and (c) other matters relating to credit unions

The current Advisory Committee was established from 1st September 2010 and has met on 2 occasions since then. The Committee plans to meet once a month on an ongoing basis over its 3 year term.

Civil Service Adjudicator and Civil Service Arbitration Board

The Chairperson (nominated by the Minister for Finance and appointed by the Government) and the two members of the Arbitration Board for the Civil Service (Employer representative and Staff representative) and the Adjudicator were appointed/re-appointed in July 2010. The term of appointment is until 30 June 2011.

The Civil Service Arbitration Board has not met in the period since appointment in July 2010. The Adjudicator has adjudicated on a number of hearings on an ad-hoc basis since January 2010.

Under the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for the Civil Service, there are two forms of arbitration — an Arbitration Board and an Adjudicator, The Arbitration Board deals with significant claims and the Adjudicator deals with other issues.

Disciplinary Code of Appeals Board and the Independent Mediator

Both the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson are appointed by the Minister for Finance for a three year period — the current terms expire in June and December 2011.

Sits as required to adjudicate on appeals made to the Board Appointment is renewed annually

Current arrangements for handling grievance cases provides, amongst other things, for the appointment by the Minister for Finance of a Mediation Officer to whom certain grievance issues could be referred if they could not be resolved at earlier stages of the grievance procedure.

Implementation Group for Reform of Regulatory Structures

A joint high level Department of Finance and Central Bank Group to implement reforms to the structures and associated powers and functions of financial regulation.

Established in 2009 and has met 12 times since then.

Preferred Policy Options Group

To examine CO2 mitigation options for Ireland.

First meeting — 22/07/09 and has met 12 times since then.

Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Expert Group

Having regard to the commitments in the Renewed Programme for Government to protect the family home and help those in personal debt, in February 2010 the Minister for Finance established the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Expert Group, under the independent chair of Mr. Hugh Cooney, and insolvency accountant, to make recommendations to the Minister on options for improving the current situation for families with mortgage arrears and personal debt.

The Group has met on 23 occasions since its establishment.

The Expert Group is made up of the Chairman and 7 other external experts along with senior civil servants from Government Departments. The external members of the Expert Group are working on a pro-bono basis.

The Expert Group submitted an interim report to the Minister in July. All of the recommendations were later accepted by Government and are being implemented. The Expert Group is due to complete its final Report shortly.

.

Steering Group for the Introduction of a Single Social Contribution

This Interdepartmental Steering Group was established by the Minister of Finance in February 2010 to examine the issues surrounding the introduction of a Universal Social Contribution and to report back to him. The Group consists of representatives of the Department of Finance, the Department of Social Protection and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

The group has met 3 times thus far.

Tax Strategy Group

The Tax Strategy Group is an interdepartmental committee chaired by the Department of Finance which was set up in 1993. Membership comprises senior officials and advisors from the Departments of Finance, Taoiseach, Health and Children, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Enterprise Trade and Employment, Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners. The Group examines tax issues and Social Welfare issues in the run up to each year’s Budget and Finance Bill.

The Group meets approximately 7 times a year.

Review Group on State Assets

This Group was established to examine State assets and liabilities and to advise on how the assets can be better used or disposed of to support economic growth and national investment priorities.

This work is ongoing in nature and is expected to provide an interim report before the end of the year.

Independent Review of the Department of Finance

The Independent Review Group was established to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the systems, structures and processes of the Department of Finance relating to those elements of budgetary, economic, financial and public service management that are relevant to its role.

The work is ongoing in nature and an interim report is expected before the end of the year.

Commission of Investigation into the Banking Sector in Ireland

The Commission was established under Statutory Instrument No. 454 of 2010 to examine specific matters considered by the Government to be of significant public concern in relation to the Banking Sector in Ireland during the period 1 January 2003 to 15 January 2009.

The work is ongoing on this investigation.

Domestic Standing Group on Financial Stability

The DSG was established under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Dept of Finance, the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator in July 2007. The Group provides a mechanism for exchange of information relevant to the discharge of the parties’ respective responsibilities in relation to financial stability.

The Memorandum of Understanding establishing the DSG provides that it will normally meet on a quarterly basis. However with the onset of the financial markets crisis the DSG has met more frequently than this.

Business Regulation

Richard Bruton

Question:

211 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his Department was required to take part in the interdepartmental group on administrative burden reduction; if his Department has yet listed information obligations that his Department’s regulations impose on business; if so, the number of information obligations listed; if his Department has yet assessed which requirements are the most burdensome; if his Department has measured the actual cost to business of the most burdensome requirements and if so, the total cost. [40351/10]

The measurement of administrative burdens using the Standard Cost Model is an exercise that was called for by business, as a baseline for the 25% administrative burden reduction programme, and is being carried out across all Departments with any substantive regulation that affects business. My Department has already listed burdens arising from regulations under its responsibility, e.g. administrative requirements on companies applying for public contracts; the need to provide tax clearance certificates; statements of good standing; possible evidence of financial capacity; technical capacity etc. Measurement of the cost to business is expected to be completed in 2011 and, following this, simplification plans will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, for implementation.

Civil Service Language Service

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

212 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the Civil Service language service; if he will outline its role; the amount of money spent by the service in each if the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40367/10]

Language training programmes in the civil service are provided by Gaeleagras and the Civil Service Language Centre which operate under the aegis of the Civil Service Training and Development Centre in my Department.

Gaeleagras

Gaeleagras delivers training in the Irish Language to civil servants to enable Departments to meet their obligations under the Official Languages Act, 2003. It provides accredited Irish Language courses at its offices in Lansdowne House, Dublin and specialised in-house training to Departments and Offices. In addition, Gaeleagras organises a number of scholarship programmes each year in Gaelteacht areas; it provides a confidential translation service for this Department and a translation service for official publications. It is also responsible for the Irish Proficiency Test throughout the wider civil service.

Costs for Gaeleagras cover the salaries of teaching staff (whole-time and part-time) and general expenditure associated with the provision of Gaeleagras's services. Details for the period requested are as follows:

Year

Expenditure

2005

428,895

2006

444,691

2007

464,349

2008

424,865

2009

413,430

2010 to date

206,829

Civil Service Language Centre

The Civil Service Language Centre (CSLC) delivers training to civil servants (including members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces) in modern European languages, Mandarin and Irish Sign Language. Courses are available in the following languages: French; German; Irish Sign Language; Italian; Polish; Russian; Spanish; Standard Mandarin. Programmes are delivered by a team of part-time language trainers and a director of tuition. Training is facilitated in Departmental offices in Lansdowne House, Dublin and Tullamore. A translation service for Government Departments and Offices is also provided.

Costs associated with the provision of this service, apart from administrative and incidental costs, derive from the salaries paid to the Director and the cohort of part-time teachers delivering the training programmes. Details for the period requested are as follows:

Year

Expenditure

2005

204,597.99

2006

236,446.41

2007

233,812.83

2008

287,619.21

2009

262,498.07

2010 to date

213,314.17

Full-time teaching staff, on secondment from the Department of Education and Skills, were engaged by the CSLC prior to September 2007. Details of their salaries for the academic years in question are as follows:

Year

Expenditure

2004/05

145,570.30

2005/06

154,477.90

2006/07

75,007.00

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Brian Hayes

Question:

213 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the pension levy is being paid by employees of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service as they do not have a state pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39695/10]

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is a statutory body under the aegis of my Department. A contributory funded pension scheme, sponsored by the employer, was set up for employees in 1963. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service is a public service body as defined in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009 and, consequently, its employees are public servants within the terms of that Act. The pension scheme in place comes under the scope of a public service pension scheme as defined in section 1 of the Act ‘provided for under an administrative measure to like effect as the Superannuation Acts'.

Services for People with Disabilities

Brian O'Shea

Question:

214 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the cost of disability here is examined and progressed without delay. [39851/10]

There are a range of financial supports in place which are designed specifically to address the issue of additional costs associated with disabilities including weekly/monthly allowances, additional income supports, other benefits such as medical cards/free travel/mobility allowance and tax concessions. It is important to be aware that the provision of a cost of disability payment raises a number of very complex questions.

Not all people with disabilities incur additional costs, nor do they incur costs to the same extent. A national system of needs assessment is a prerequisite for any cost of disability payment scheme. The Government was committed to considering the issues around the feasibility of cost of disability payment following the development of the needs assessment system provided for in the Disability Act. However, with the major changes in the economic environment and the deferral of the implementation of the Disability Act, the Government is not in a position to progress consideration of the feasability of introducing a cost of disability payment.

Health Services

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

215 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cork has to pay for a specific service. [40154/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Mental Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

216 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether due to the increase in death by suicide it is now necessary to increase financial support for all the mental health services as it is well documented that in times of financial crisis there is a massive burden on persons’ mental health due to financial stress, debt and unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40394/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

217 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the implementation of the 2006 policy A Vision for Change; her views on its effects in replacing institutionalisation with community based services to date; if she will acknowledge in the context of budget 2011 spending reductions that the mental health budget has been reduced by 9.2% since 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40453/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

218 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to the crisis in our mental health services and if she will ensure that there are no further cuts in the mental health services in the next budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40392/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

256 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39943/10]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

276 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40225/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 216 to 218, inclusive, 256 and 276 together.

The Government will be considering the 2011 Estimates for the health service over the coming weeks in the context of its strategy for economic recovery and its target to reduce the general government deficit to 3% of GDP by 2014. Notwithstanding the difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs and to support ongoing reform of the public health services within the resources available for health. To achieve this, staff at all levels will have to work together to deliver services in a more flexible way. It is essential that the impact on frontline services of any cuts is minimised while ensuring that the needs of service users remains the highest priority.

The HSE is working within limited financial resources. The appropriate management of the public finances means that the health sector, which represents over 27% of public expenditure, must operate within the approved budget set out at the start of the year. Under Section 31(1) of the Health Act, 2004, the HSE is required to prepare an annual National Service Plan. The Plan, which must indicate the type and volume of health and personal social services to be provided by the HSE, is submitted to the Minister for Health and Children for approval. The appropriate management of the health services also means that the mental health services must be funded in an equitable and sustainable manner.

The estimated cost of the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ is €150m over 7 — 10 years. Development funding totalling €54 million has been allocated to the HSE since the launch of the Report in 2006. In addition, almost €1 million was allocated this year under the Dormant Accounts Fund for a programme of suicide prevention measures to help communities to develop integrated local action plans for suicide prevention. To further the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’, the 2010 Employment Control Framework for the health service provided an exemption from the moratorium on recruitment and allowed 100 psychiatric posts to be filled by nurses or therapists.

There are substantial resources already invested in mental health. The reconfiguring and remodelling of these resources will be the main focus for the immediate future. While implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ has been somewhat slower than originally anticipated it is important to say that in many parts of the country, services are pressing ahead with the implementation of the policy. Significant progress has been achieved including: shorter episodes of inpatient care, improved child and adolescent mental health services, fewer involuntary admissions and the involvement of service users in all aspects of mental health policy, service planning and delivery. Acute admissions to St Brendan’s Hospital have ceased. Plans for the transfer of acute inpatient admissions from St Ita’s Hospital to a new purpose built unit on the Beaumont Hospital Campus are proceeding. New Community Nursing Units in Ballinasloe and Mullingar have been developed.

The number of child and adolescent inpatient beds will increase from 30 to 52 before the end of 2010. This together with the Mental Health Commission code of practice relating to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001 will greatly reduce the need to admit children to adult units.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

219 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39650/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

257 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the outcome of a recent meeting (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39945/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 257 together.

I met with the Jack and Jill Foundation on Tuesday 12th October last. The Health Service Executive was also represented at the meeting. We discussed a range of issues including additional State funding. I will continue to engage with the Jack and Jill Foundation. Both the Minister and I and the Health Service Executive recognise the valuable contribution that the many agencies and charities make in the provision of health and personal social services to people with a disability.

Reflecting the current economic situation the health sector must manage service levels within available resources. The HSE together with the ‘non-statutory organisations' who provide services on behalf of the HSE, will continue to review how these services are provided in order to protect the delivery of front line services as much as possible. In the current environment, this is a challenge for all, including the HSE and non statutory charity organisations. The HSE will continue to work closely with all agencies and bodies in the sector, including Jack and Jill, to provide whatever assistance it can from within its resources, in the context of the annual Service Level Agreement arrangements.

The very difficult financial position facing the country will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure, including the disability sector. Notwithstanding this difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect patient services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs, and to support ongoing reform of the public heath services within the resources available for health.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

220 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied). [39659/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Phil Hogan

Question:

221 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the centralising and processing of all medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39663/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE), with my full support, decided to centralise the processing of all medical cards and GP visit card applications and renewals to its Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) in Dublin. In January 2009, the PCRS took over the processing of all medical card applications for persons aged 70 or over. In September 2009, the processing of all applications from two Local Health Offices in Dublin transferred to the PCRS.

In June 2010, the HSE introduced a new website, www.medicalcard.ie, which enables people anywhere in the country to apply for a medical card through a simple and efficient online application process. Online assessments are immediate and for applicants who supply all evidence/documentation and are eligible on income grounds, medical card delivery is guaranteed within 15 days of receipt of the completed application pack. The HSE has also made provision for emergency applications to be dealt with immediately. The PCRS is receiving approximately 3,000 applications each week via this new channel, with more than 50% of these being made outside normal office hours.

Significant progress has been made in this national project in providing an improved service to the public at less cost to the State. Up to 8th October 2010, the PCRS has received 211,801 medical card applications and reviews and issued 171,237 medical cards. The next phase of the project will move the processing of all new applications to the Central Office following a consultative process with staff representatives in line with the recent agreement on pay and reform in the public service. As the centralisation process continues, more initiatives will be introduced and the current initiatives will continue to be enhanced as the HSE receives feedback and continues to engage closely with advocacy groups, staff, public representatives and primary care contractors.

When the centralisation process is finalised (estimated completion date is 31st March 2011), staff in Local Health Offices will continue to have access to the national system and will be available to help clients with enquiries about their application or review and will also be able to deal with queries of a general nature about the medical card scheme.

Departmental Expenditure

James Bannon

Question:

222 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the persons or bodies in receipt of subventions or grants from her Department; the amount paid to each recipient in the year such payments commenced; the amount paid to each recipient in the current year; to place in the Oireachtas Library the latest two sets of accounts for these payments furnished by such persons or bodies to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39681/10]

My Department administers a National Lottery Discretionery fund from which grants are paid to community and voluntary organisations. The total amount paid out in 2009 was €3,985,000, and the funding available in 2010 is €3,786,000. Prior to 2009, details of all recipients of lottery grants were set out in the Appropriation Account of my Department. Following a decision by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Appropriation Accounts no longer provide this detail, but require each Department to publish this information. As stated in the Appropriation Accounts for Vote 39, details of the recipients of lottery grants are available on my Department's website at www.dohc.ie.

The Agencies directly funded by my Department and their budget allocations for 2010 are set out in the following table. The audited accounts of these agencies are submitted to the Minister and are placed in the Oireachtas library as a matter of course.

Agencies directly funded by Department of Health and Children

Agency

2010

National Social Work Qualification Board

538,000

Irish Medicines Board

3,650,000

Food Safety Authority Ireland

17,427,000

Institute of Public Health

1,542,000

Health Information and Quality Authority

14,757,000

Mental Health Commission

18,190,000

National Council Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery

4,162,000

Office of Tobacco Control

1,726,000

Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council

3,161,000

Childrens’ Acts Advisory Board*

1,000,000

National Treatment Purchase Fund

90,092,000

Food Safety Promotion Board

6,665,000

Health Research Board

34,157,000

Ombudsman for Children

2,223,000

Office of the Disability Appeals Officer

501,000

National Cancer Registry Board

2,975,000

Health and Social Care Professionals Council

962,000

2010 Figures as per Revised Estimates Volume.

*Due to be abolished in 2010.

Nursing Education

Paul Kehoe

Question:

223 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 21 October 2010, if she will confirm the requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39699/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Cancer Screening Programme

Richard Bruton

Question:

224 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider arranging access to cervical smear tests, where appropriate, without charge for persons under the age of 25 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39708/10]

CervicalCheck, the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS), provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60. The CervicalCheck Programme Report published this year reported that over 284,800 women were screened during the period 1 September 2008 — 31 August 2009.

International best practice currently recommends that population-based cervical screening programmes should target women aged from 25 or 30 years to 60 or 65 years. The scientific literature would suggest that there is no additional public health benefit in starting screening below the age of 25 years and published research in fact has shown that the disadvantages of screening women under the age of 25 years may be greater than any potential benefit.

The NCSS keeps under constant review the evidence base, involving any research conducted in Ireland or internationally, that would influence the target population for CervicalCheck. CervicalCheck is a programme for women without symptoms. Irrespective of her age, any woman who has symptoms causing concern should seek the advice of her doctor.

Medical Training

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

225 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of training one general practitioner, broken down according to cost of undergraduate medical training and postgraduate general practitioner training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39718/10]

As the information sought by the Deputy is not provided by the Health Service Executive to my Department as a matter of routine, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

226 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will supply information on a matter (details supplied). [39720/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Services

Sean Sherlock

Question:

227 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39722/10]

The scheduling of patients for hospital treatment is a matter for the consultant concerned in each case and is determined on the basis of clinical need. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant involved. The management of hospital services generally, including out-patient waiting lists, is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the case investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Care of the Elderly

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

228 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that day care services at a home (details supplied) remain suspended despite a decision and commitment made in April 2010 by the Minister of State with responsibility for older people and health promotion to reinstate these services; if she will restore these facilities as they provided a vital and valuable service for over 50 persons from the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39729/10]

This Government is committed to supporting people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Where this is not feasible, the health service supports access to quality long-term residential care where this is appropriate and we continue to develop and improve health services in all regions of the country and to ensure quality and patient safety.

The Health Service Executive has operational responsibility for the delivery of health and personal social services, including those at facilities such as Plunkett Home, Boyle. The Executive indicated that it temporarily closed the Day-care Service at the Plunkett Community Nursing Unit in Boyle from Monday March 8th. The HSE appreciates that this is an inconvenience for clients of this service but there must be appropriate staffing levels to run any service safely. The Executive has indicated that it is unable to re-open this facility at present as there are a number of vacancies in the service and it has not been able to recruit appropriate staff.

General Medical Services Scheme

James Reilly

Question:

229 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the cost of the State drugs bill for each of the following years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39741/10]

The cost of drugs and medicines reimbursed by the HSE's Primary Care Reimbursement Service in respect of the GMS and community drug schemes is as follows:

Agencies directly funded by Department of Health and Children

Year

€ m

2003

1,046.79

2004

1,234.11

2005

1,366.90

2006

1,572.42

2007

1,749.97

2008

1,903.92

2009

2,026.02

2010 (Jan to Sept)

1,407.30

The cost of drugs and medicines provided by hospitals and community services is as follows (national data prior to 2007 is not available):

Agencies directly funded by Department of Health and Children

Year

€ m

2007

363.92

2008

391.88

2009

419.81

2010 (Jan to Sept)

297.33

Hospital Services

James Reilly

Question:

230 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the hospital budget for each of the years 1997 to 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39743/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table.

Hospital Expenditure

Year

€bn

1997

1.466

1998

1.566

1999

1.825

2000

2.051

2001

3.291

2002

3.801

2003

4.181

2004

4.011

2005

4.440

2006

4.541

2007

5.004

2008

5.727

2009

5.475

2010

5.275

Source: Provisional Outturn 1998-2009 as published in the Revised Estimates Volumes 1998-2010. 2010 Provision as set out in REV 2010.

It is important to note that these figures are not directly comparable, as following the establishment of the Health Service Executive in 2005 the programme breakdown in the Revised Estimates Volumes changed. Up to 2004 (2003 outturn figures) the programme breakdown provided was in relation to the "General Hospital Programme" and included services provided in district hospitals, county hospitals and long-stay hospitals. Many of the costs related to these areas are now reflected in other programmes, such as care of older people and the mental health programme. Following the establishment of the HSE, the programme breakdown for hospitals is now the acute sector only, with long-stay and other residential services reflected in other programmes. It should also be noted that the figure for 2010 includes savings arising from public service pay reductions and other economies.

Departmental Expenditure

James Reilly

Question:

231 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the average cost per patient attending hospital for each of the years 2003 to 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39744/10]

James Reilly

Question:

232 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the average cost per inpatient procedure for each of the years 2003 to 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39745/10]

James Reilly

Question:

233 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the average cost per day case procedure for each of the years 2003 to 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39746/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 231 to 233, inclusive, together.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Nos.147, 148, and 149 of the 7th July 2010. The information requested for 2009 is not yet available, as its compilation has been delayed by industrial action in the Health Service Executive earlier in 2010. The information is expected to be available in the coming months.

Medical Cards

James Reilly

Question:

234 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the average number of prescriptions issued for medical card holders for each of the years 2003 to 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39747/10]

I understand that the Deputy was referring to the average number of prescription items dispensed to medical card holders per annum. The information requested is as follows:

Year

Number

2003

29

2004

32

2005

34

2006

35

2007

36

2008

39

2009

37

These figures are based on the actual number of persons who availed of service.

James Reilly

Question:

235 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the average number of prescriptions issued to medical card holders for each of the years 2003 to 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39748/10]

I understand that the Deputy was referring to the average cost per item for prescription items dispensed to medical card holders. The information is as follows:

Year

2003

20.18

2004

21.79

2005

22.21

2006

23.18

2007

23.63

2008

23.76

2009

24.85

Care of the Elderly

Joe Behan

Question:

236 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will meet with an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39764/10]

I met with members of the Save Wicklow Hospital Campaign and local public representatives to discuss the proposed closure of Wicklow Community Hospital on 27th October 2010. Wicklow Community Hospital, built in the 1940s, currently provides 26 long stay care beds, 4 respite care beds and 1 palliative care bed. HSE Management commissioned two reports recently arising from concerns in relation to the physical infrastructure of the residential unit at the Hospital. One was a comprehensive architectural survey and the other a report in relation to Fire Safety compliance.

While the Architectural Survey is still underway, the Fire Safety report was completed and submitted on 14th October. It found approximately 80 issues requiring significant and urgent attention. In addition, it became clear that if works were undertaken to bring the current building up to meet the requirements under the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People the likely numbers of residents that could be accommodated at the Hospital would be reduced to between 10 and 12 which would render the residential element of the Hospital unviable.

Consequently, the HSE has decided that the best option is to close the hospital and informed HIQA of this decision on 22nd October. The HSE has met with representatives of residents, and Wicklow Public Representatives. Staff representative bodies have also been apprised of the situation.

The welfare of the residents is the primary concern. The Director of Nursing and her Assistant Director, who know the residents and their familes, informed them of the decision. The Director of Nursing and her staff continue to make themselves available at all times to the residents and their families in supporting them through the transfer process. A helpline phone number has been set up and given to the residents and their families. They have been offered a choice in relation to their future homes. Currently most of the residents have chosen to move to St. Colman's, Rathdrum, or to Blainroe Nursing Home in Wicklow.

Residents are being assessed by the staff from the units where they will make their new homes to ensure that their assessed needs can be met. The General Practitioners who provide a medical service to the residents have also been informed. Suitable transfer arrangements will be facilitated for the residents when they are ready to transfer to their new homes. They will be accompanied by appropriate staff from Wicklow Hospital to ensure continuity of care in relation to their needs as indicated in their individual care plans.

Community Care

Michael McGrath

Question:

237 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department is still accepting applications under a particular grant scheme (details supplied). [39775/10]

My Department has a National Lottery Discretionary fund in place which provides once-off grants to community groups and organisations, providing a range of health related services. If an organisation wishes to make an application for National Lottery Funding they should send in a formal application. Detailed procedures, along with the application form are set out on my Department's website — www.dohc.ie

Preschool Services

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

238 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for the early childhood care and education scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39779/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which provides for a free pre-school year to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school.

Children qualify for the free pre-school year where they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months in September of the relevant year. This means that children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 are eligible for the free pre-school year which commenced in September 2010 and children born between 2 February 2007 and 30 June 2008 will be eligible in September 2011. The child in question will be eligible in September 2011 but if her parents decide to send her to primary school at that time she will not be able benefit from the ECCE scheme. There is no provision under the scheme to enrol children that are below the qualifying age.

The objective of the ECCE scheme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to all children in the year before they commence primary school. Services participating in the pre-school year are expected to provide appropriate age related activities and programmes to children within a particular age cohort. It is necessary, therefore, to target the pre-school year at a particular age cohort and to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children participate in the scheme. In setting the minimum and maximum age limits, account was taken of a number of factors, including the variation in school admission policies and the fact that the majority of children commence primary school between the ages of 4 years 6 months and 5 years 6 months.

Vaccination Programme

Joe McHugh

Question:

239 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department or the Health Service Executive will refund fees to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39781/10]

The national HPV vaccination programme commenced in May in secondary schools for girls in first year. The second phase of the HPV vaccination programme is now underway. During this calendar year all girls currently in second year and those who entered first year in September are being offered the vaccination. The programme will continue with the vaccine being offered to all girls in first year in secondary school each year. It is not proposed to extend the vaccination programme to other classes at present. Unfortunately it will not be possible to refund the costs of vaccinations administered privately.

Health Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

240 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive dental unit in Cornmarket was to move to a local building and had secured funding for the refurbishment of that unit and that the HSE agreed to pay the rent; however because the HSE is now not willing to pay the rent the dental unit in Cornmarket has been closed by the HSE and staff moved temporarily to Crumlin health centre resulting in the 16 local schools and those in the south-west inner city who used this service having to go to Crumlin and if she will confirm the location of the permanent unit for users from the south-west inner city. [39792/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

241 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if the dental service in St. James’s Hospital is being closed. [39793/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Properties

John O'Mahony

Question:

242 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of premises and sites being rented or leased not currently in use and the cost of maintenance and security on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39804/10]

John O'Mahony

Question:

243 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of premises and sites rented or leased by her Department; the location of same; if they are currently in use and the cost for 2008 and 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39819/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 242 and 243 together.

The sourcing of property on behalf of Government Departments is a matter for the Office of Public Works. The only relevant lease currently held by my Department is Block D, Irish Life Mall, which formerly accommodated the Women's Health Council. This agency was subsumed into my Department as part of wider rationalisation initiatives. However, my Department has arranged that the Disability Appeals Office currently occupying a leased premises in Clondalkin will very shortly relocate to Block D, Irish Life Mall.

Year

No of Premises

Location

Lease/Rent

Service Charge (Inc maintenance and Security)

2008

One

Block D, Irish Life Mall, Dublin 1

98,500

41,507

2009

One

Block D, Irish Life Mall, Dublin 1

98,500

41,366

Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

244 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if a review will be carried out by the Health Service Executive and the necessary assistance provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39844/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

Brian O'Shea

Question:

245 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that access to disability specific services (details supplied) is protected in the forthcoming budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39849/10]

I recognise the valuable contribution made by the many agencies and charities to the provision of health and personal social services for people with a disability.

Reflecting the current economic situation the HSE must manage service levels within available resources. In the current environment, this is a challenge for all, including the HSE and non statutory charity organisations. By working together and finding innovative ways to provide value for money we can help to protect services. With this in mind we must improve the efficiency and effectiveness of disability funding. There are many organisations providing services to people with a disability. It is essential that organisations operate models of service that maximise the significant resources available. The HSE will work closely with all agencies and bodies in the sector to maximise their efficiency and effectiveness, in the context of the annual Service Level Agreement arrangements.

Deliberations by the Government on the expenditure allocations for next year are continuing in the context of the forthcoming Budget. The very difficult financial position facing the country will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure, including the disability sector. Notwithstanding this difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect patient services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs, and to support ongoing reform of the public heath services within the resources available for health.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

246 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason inquiries from a person (details supplied) regarding their application to the health repayment scheme appeals office have gone unanswered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39853/10]

The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office is an independent office established to provide an appeals service to those who wish to appeal the decision of the Scheme Administrator under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006.

The claimant lodged an Appeal with the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office on 15 October 2008. Following a review of the appeal, the Appeals Officer wrote to the claimant requesting additional evidence. The claimant supplied some information to the Appeals Officer on 30 September 2009. The Appeals Officer continues to investigate the appeal. As part of these investigations the Appeals Officer has been liaising with the HSE institution concerned and the Scheme Administrator in relation to the patient's records. When the Appeals Officer has made a determination on the appeal he will write to the claimant providing the reasons for the decision.

Hospital Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

247 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [39854/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Jack Wall

Question:

248 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive a date and time for an appointment at the paediatric clinic, Portlaoise General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39857/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Mary Upton

Question:

249 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will address the concerns of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39865/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Jack Wall

Question:

250 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be issued with a replacement medical card as their original one was lost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39877/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

251 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [39891/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Deirdre Clune

Question:

252 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received the report from the expert advisory group on diabetes; if she is in a position to implement the recommendations particularly in relation to paediatric services in the Cork area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39900/10]

The Health Service Executive Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Diabetes was published in 2008. The implementation of the recommendations in this Report with respect to services in the Cork area is a service matter and therefore it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Care of the Elderly

Michael Ring

Question:

253 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if the home help hours in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can be reviewed and restored to their original amount. [39906/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

254 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the retention of a nursing home (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39907/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Departmental Expenditure

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

255 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the savings that have been made in her Department through the use of open source software packages and generic consumables; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39924/10]

My Department has a small ICT Unit and staff concentrate on core technologies with single platforms for ease of operational and support reasons. In key areas such as web site and some database systems, where skill sets are available, considerable use is made of open source software. It is difficult to evaluate the savings made in deploying these products due to the variety of comparative technologies available on the market but I am confident they are more economical to deploy and maintain. In relation to consumables, it is intended to purchase via the National Procurement Service consumables tender as soon as their procurement framework exercise is finalised early in the new year. It is planned to exhaust all current stocks of consumables and any requirements in the interim will be made via a small draw down arrangement until the new framework is in place. My Department earlier this year has evaluated the concept of a managed print service and the use of generic consumables to achieve better value for money but has decided to approach the issue via the proposed framework agreement.

Question No. 256 answered with Question No. 216.
Question No. 257 answered with Question No. 219.

Hospital Services

Pat Breen

Question:

258 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39946/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Asylum Support Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

259 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 186 of 5 October 2010, if women in direct provision centres have been consulted directly to establish their views on whether women-only centres are warranted or desirable for their and their children’s safety. [40095/10]

The Reception and Integration Agency of the Department of Justice and Law Reform is responsible for coordinating the provision of services to asylum seekers.

Medical Cards